Take Time to Be Wrong

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Agreeing with others, especially when they are pointing out your faults, is not easy, but it can play a crucial role in peacemaking. When you are talking with another person, first listen for the truth, resisting the temptation to defend yourself, blame others, or focus on points of disagreement. Ask yourself, “Is there any truth in what he or she is saying?” If your answer is “yes,” acknowledge what is true and identify your common ground before moving to your differences. Doing so is a sign of wisdom and spiritual maturity. “Let a righteous man strike me–it is a kindness; let him rebuke me–it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it” (Ps. 141:5). “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise” (Prov. 15:31; cf. 15:5; 17:10; 25:12). By agreeing with the other person whenever possible, you can resolve certain issues easily and then focus profitably on matters that deserve further discussion.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 168-169.

 

Food for Thought

Think back to arguments you’ve had. Can you recall a single instance when quickly defending yourself from the criticism of another brought peace? In contrast to a quick defense, James exhorts us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (Jas. 1:19). Consider the beginning of Proverbs 15:31: “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke…” Simply put, listening requires time–and reflection on what’s been said. You have literally nothing (except pride) to lose and everything to gain by listening and not responding quickly when someone points out what they believe to be a fault of yours.

The next time someone brings a rebuke your way, restrain yourself from offering your verdict on their rebuke–whether that verdict be positive or negative–until you’ve had time to check in with the Lord about it. Tell the other person, “That’s hard for me to hear, but I know I need to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I’d like some time to think deeply about what you’ve said.” If it turns out that you still disagree with the other person, at least you’ll both have the benefit of knowing that you’re not responding at the jerk of a knee.

Agonizing for Peace… Like a Gladiator

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Paul’s letter to the Ephesians focuses heavily on peacemaking. The first three chapters provide a glorious description of God’s plan of salvation. In the fourth chapter, Paul begins to explain how we should respond to what Christ has done for us. Note carefully what Paul places at the top of his list of practical applications of the gospel: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). The Greek word that is translated “make every effort” in this passage means to strive eagerly, earnestly, and diligently. It is a word that a trainer of gladiators might have used when he sent men to fight to the death in the Coliseum: “Make every effort to stay alive today!” So too must a Christian agonize for peace and unity. Obviously, token efforts and halfhearted attempts at reconciliation fall far short of what Paul had in mind.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 66.

Food for Thought

Are you struck by the call to agonize for peace and unity–like a gladiator? Do you know who agonizes for peace and unity like a gladiator? Christ Jesus! Before you get down on yourself by thinking, “Wow, I should really be agonizing more about my peacemaking…”, hear the good news: Christ himself is a “peacemaking gladiator.” When you “fight” for reconciliation, even in a seemingly lost cause, you’re fighting back to back with the greatest warrior who ever lived–the Lord himself. The battle may turn out differently than you expect or prefer, but take comfort in this:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

Fight the good fight of reconciliation with the Lord, not you, in the lead. Follow his lead, leaving the results in his hands, and you will see that, far from despising your efforts, the Lord will accept them as a sacrifice–and he will honor them, in his own way, in his own time.

Forgiven, But Not Trusted?

Loving actions can do much more than change your feelings; they can also communicate in unmistakable terms the reality of your forgiveness and your commitment to reconciliation. Thomas Edison apparently understood this principle. When he and his staff were developing the incandescent light bulb, it took hundreds of hours to manufacture a single bulb. One day, after finishing a bulb, he handed it to a young errand boy and asked him to take it upstairs to the testing room. As the boy turned and started up the stairs, he stumbled and fell, and the bulb shattered on the steps. Instead of rebuking the boy, Edison reassured him and then turned to his staff and told them to start working on another bulb.

When it was completed several days later, Edison demonstrated the reality of his forgiveness in the most powerful way possible. He walked over to the same boy, handed him the bulb, and said, “Please take this up to the testing room.” Imagine how that boy must have felt. He knew that he didn’t deserve to be trusted with this responsibility again. Yet, here it was, being offered to him as though nothing had happened. Nothing could have restored this boy to the team more clearly, more quickly, or more fully. How much more should those of us who have experienced reconciliation with God be quick to demonstrate our forgiveness with concrete actions.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 222-223.

Food for Thought

One of the central (and often most neglected) elements of forgiveness is offering our trust again to the one who failed us. In some cases, it is entirely appropriate and necessary for us to set restrictions on a person who has violated trust (for example, prohibiting an adult who has hurt children from being alone with other children in the future, even when the adult is forgiven). But in many cases, withholding trust from those we forgive can be just a subtle form of continuing punishment or failure to truly reconcile. Isn’t it good that God doesn’t require that we “earn his trust” when we fail him? Each day he gives us opportunities to experience his restoration and his trust, not just his forgiveness. Is there someone you have forgiven who needs to feel your trust today?

Forgiven, But Not Trusted?

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Loving actions can do much more than change your feelings; they can also communicate in unmistakable terms the reality of your forgiveness and your commitment to reconciliation. Thomas Edison apparently understood this principle. When he and his staff were developing the incandescent light bulb, it took hundreds of hours to manufacture a single bulb. One day, after finishing a bulb, he handed it to a young errand boy and asked him to take it upstairs to the testing room. As the boy turned and started up the stairs, he stumbled and fell, and the bulb shattered on the steps. Instead of rebuking the boy, Edison reassured him and then turned to his staff and told them to start working on another bulb.

When it was completed several days later, Edison demonstrated the reality of his forgiveness in the most powerful way possible. He walked over to the same boy, handed him the bulb, and said, “Please take this up to the testing room.” Imagine how that boy must have felt. He knew that he didn’t deserve to be trusted with this responsibility again. Yet, here it was, being offered to him as though nothing had happened. Nothing could have restored this boy to the team more clearly, more quickly, or more fully. How much more should those of us who have experienced reconciliation with God be quick to demonstrate our forgiveness with concrete actions.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 222-223.
 

Food for Thought

One of the central (and often most neglected) elements of forgiveness is offering our trust again to the one who failed us. In some cases, it is entirely appropriate and necessary for us to set restrictions on a person who has violated trust (for example, prohibiting an adult who has hurt children from being alone with other children in the future, even when the adult is forgiven). But in many cases, withholding trust from those we forgive can be just a subtle form of continuing punishment or failure to truly reconcile. Isn’t it good that God doesn’t require that we “earn his trust” when we fail him? Each day he gives us opportunities to experience his restoration and his trust, not just his forgiveness. Is there someone you have forgiven who needs to feel your trust today?

This Week’s Summer Special – Family Pack

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Save $18 when you purchase this special pack of family peacemaking resources for just $29.95.

Includes both the teacher’s guide and student activity booklets for the Young Peacemaker curriculum, as well as Ken Sande’s book Peacemaking for Families. Now is a great time to think about the fall Sunday school, home school, or Christian school classes, and these materials would be a great fit for any home or church. Offer good through July 15.

You can place your order with our bookstore online or over the phone by calling 800-711-7118.

Going the Wrong Way Down a One-Way Street

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Because most of us do not like to admit that we have sinned, we tend to conceal, deny, or rationalize our wrongs. If we cannot completely cover up what we have done, we try to minimize our wrongdoing by saying that we simply made a “mistake” or an “error in judgment.” Another way to avoid responsibility for our sins is to shift the blame to others or to say that they made us act the way we did. When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule. It goes something like this: “Well, I know I’m not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I’d say that about 40% of the fault is mine. That means 60% of the fault is hers. Since she is 20% more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness.” I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than canceled by another’s sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120.
 

Food for Thought

“It’s two-way street, you know … I did stuff, but he did stuff, too! Why aren’t we talking about HIS stuff?” These words, which were spoken in the midst of an actual conflict, reflect another variation of the 40/60 rule Ken mentions above. We say it’s a two-way street, but the problem is that in reality we still treat it like a one-way street. “When the other person is willing to ‘drive’ to me, only then will I think about confessing my part of the conflict.”

But that’s not the way Jesus spells things out in Luke 6:41-42. There he gives his famous words on “getting the log out” of your own eye first, before you ever get around to removing the splinter from your brother’s or sister’s eye. And just a few verses earlier, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. (Luke 6:35)

What about the confessions we make? Do we withhold our confession until we have assurance that the other person will confess his or her part? Or are we willing to confess “expecting nothing in return”? It is a two-way street, but the responsibility that God calls each of us to is all one-way.

Summer Specials are Here!

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Each week over the next six weeks, we are pleased to offer some great deals on the practical, gospel-centered resources from Peacemaker Ministries. Each special will only last one week (Monday through Sunday). We’ll also announce the specials here, at our bookstore, and via e-mail in PeaceMeal, our weekly e-devotional (sign up here).

This week’s special is a buy-one-get-one-free deal for our DVD study, Resolving Everyday Conflict:

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Resolving Everyday Conflict is an eight-lesson study that unpacks the amazing things the Bible has to say about conflict and relationships. As you go through this study, you’ll find the powerful and practical answers you are looking for to forever change how conflict looks in your church, workplace, or family.

Get a jump on your fall small group preparation and pick up two sets of this life-changing study for the price of one. It’s a savings of $169, so make sure you order by July 8 to receive this discount!