Listen and Learn

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I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of
God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

Good listening is particularly important for a peacemaker. It improves your ability to understand others, it shows that you realize you do not have all the answers, and it tells the other person that you value his or her thoughts and opinions. Even if you cannot agree with everything others say or do, your willingness to listen demonstrates respect and shows that you are trying to understand their perspective.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 165.

 

Food for Thought

 

Kids hear everything–things under their beds at night, an animal in distress blocks away, whispered conversations between Mom and Dad. There is something about childhood that invites listening. Maybe it’s a feeling that we might miss something if we don’t listen, and we surely don’t want to miss anything. But often as we grow up, we put away childish and childlike things in the same trip to the curb. And we’re not as concerned about missing something anymore; we’ve pretty much seen it all. At least we think we have.

We’ve pretty much got it all figured out, and so we make judgment calls on everything from political policy to personal motives. We never pause to consider the limits on our perspective; we just go right on in, where angels fear to tread.

But to walk humbly with our God means realizing that we don’t know everything and we don’t even want to; figuring everything out means the story is over. It also means approaching each living, breathing soul in our lives with wonder, for they have been fashioned by the hands of God himself. It means stopping and looking and listening, but maybe listening even more than looking.

A little more listening might open the door to peace between feuding spouses or church members. It could even begin the sowing of seeds of peace in the body of Christ. Open the ears of our hearts, Lord; we surely don’t want to miss your voice!

Meeting Your Enemy’s Deepest Needs

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The final principle for responding to a stubborn opponent is described in Romans 12:20-21: “On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Here is the ultimate weapon: deliberate, focused love (cf. Luke 6:27-28; 1 Cor. 13:4-7). Instead of reacting spitefully to those who mistreat you, Jesus wants you to discern their deepest needs and do all you can to meet those needs. Sometimes this will require going to them to show them their faults. At other times there may be a need for mercy and compassion, patience, and words of encouragement. You may even have opportunities to provide material and financial assistance to those who least deserve it or expect it from you.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 253-254.

 

Food for Thought

 

TV, radio, newspapers–all are overflowing this week with advertisements for “the perfect gift for the one you love this holiday season.” But according to Jesus, Christmas is only truly Christmas if our hearts are yearning to give the perfect gift… to our enemies:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Lk. 6:32-35).

After all, at Christmas, God gave the perfect gift–his son, Jesus–to his enemies–namely, us! So make it a point this Christmas to imitate God by meeting your enemy’s deepest need.

For Unto Us a Child is Born

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When I resort to an escape response [in dealing with conflict], I am generally focusing on “me.” I am looking for what is easy, convenient, or non-threatening for myself. When I use an attack response, I am generally focusing on “you,” blaming you and expecting you to give in and solve the problem. When I use a peacemaking response, my focus is on “us.” I am aware of everyone’s interests in the dispute, especially God’s, and I am working toward mutual responsibility in solving a problem.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 46-47.


Food for Thought

 

The great pronouncement of the prophet Isaiah concerning the Messiah–” For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Is. 9:6a, emphasis ours)–takes on special meaning this time of year as we reflect on the words, above.

By definition, Christmas can never be fully celebrated by “me” as a “personal family time with loved ones.” If we celebrate in this way, we duck the piercing challenge of Christmas. We embrace the left side of the Slippery Slope and seek only that which is “easy, convenient, and non-threatening.”

But Christmas is very threatening indeed. It is good news, but it is the kind of good news that cuts through “easy, convenient, and non-threatening” like a sword. Christmas is a stubbornly “us” celebration.

Just as Jesus redefined “neighbor” in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christmas redefines “us” and insists that that definition–and the celebration of Christmas–must include those we’d rather not see around the tree on Christmas morning. In Jesus’ Christmas celebration, our enemies are there–those who slander us and curse us and steal from us. Total strangers are there, for whom we now can and must care because God has cared for us. And even those who simply hurt our feelings unknowingly are there–those against whom we may presently be harboring tiny seeds of bitterness in our heart.

How and where will you celebrate Christmas this year? Will it be an “easy, convenient, and non-threatening” celebration spent entirely with loved ones? (One can almost hear Jesus’ question in Matthew 5:47, “Do not even pagans do that?”)

Or will your Christmas celebration take you to visit a home you’d rather not visit? Will it cause you to pick up the phone and dial a number you’ve long since quit dialing? Will it draw you outward to bring good news to a modern-day “shepherd” watching flocks by night (a convenience store clerk on Christmas eve, perhaps; or on-duty police officer or fire fighter)? Will it cause you to proclaim “good tidings of great joy for all the people”–to a stranger that you might otherwise pass without a word?

If so, then you will be swept up into the great prophecy recorded in Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (emphasis ours).

Have a Merry Christmas–a dangerously beautiful, challenging, and peace-filled one–from your brothers and sisters at Peacemaker Ministries.

Last-Minute Coaching for Your Christmas Gatherings

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In many situations, the best way to resolve a conflict is simply to overlook the personal offenses of others. This approach is highly commended throughout Scripture:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11; cf. 12:16; 15:18; 20:3).

“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out” (Prov. 17:14; cf. 26:17).

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8; cf. Prov. 10:12; 17:9)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13; cf. Eph. 4:32).

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 82.

 

Food for Thought

 

Large, raging conflicts don’t always start as large, raging conflicts. They sometimes start as tiny annoyances that spring from small misunderstandings that come from tired mouths that speak under stressful circumstances (like holidays!). Get a great start on solving your 2015 conflicts: Don’t start any more in 2014! Re-read the verses above. Do any of them speak to you in a special way? Why not memorize that verse as a “head start” on overlooking the personal offenses that will inevitably come your way as you gather together with family, friends, and church in the days ahead?

Atop This Year’s Christmas Shopping List: Loving Your Enemies!

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There is such wisdom and power in these simple words: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20-21)

 
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 256.

 

Food for Thought

 

Did you cross anyone off your Christmas card or gift list this year because they have been “bad” to you? According to Paul’s instruction, our enemies ought to be at the top of our holiday sharing lists. In our day and age, even the pagans give Christmas gifts to their friends (to paraphrase Jesus). What makes Christians different is that we care–passionately–for our enemies. We work hard to give them good gifts. Is there one particular “enemy” who you need to add back onto your list? What can you give an enemy this season that would be particularly thoughtful? This is a tough command, but it comes with an amazing promise: if we obey, we will not be overcome by evil but instead will overcome evil with good!

SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US! We’d love to hear about your efforts to “give good gifts to your enemies” this Christmas season. Please e-mail us your experience at mail@peacemaker.net.