Resolving Conflicts

The methods Jesus used in resolving conflicts and those taught in the Old Testament seem to be at variance.  The Jewish traditions defined the resolution of conflicts in terms of equal reciprocity, i. e. an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  It clearly frowned on escalating the conflict with more severe measures than was originally meted out.

Before writing this message I took a tour through the Old Testament to see if there was any form of encouragement or command requiring a person to forgive his offender.  Although there were abundant references of God’s forgiveness of man, the only time forgiveness was specifically mentioned between persons was when Jacob pleaded with Joseph that he forgive his brothers.  There are illustrations of forgiveness such as Esau and his apparent forgiveness of Jacob.  I have had to conclude that forgiveness of others is primarily New Testament principle linked totally to and enabled by the redemptive work of the cross. Continue reading “Resolving Conflicts”

Criticism the Right Way

Criticism in its most benevolent form can be demoralizing and at its extreme, totally debilitating. I don’t know of anyone who really likes to be criticized. Whether we are right or wrong in the issue involved is not the point, the point is that to be criticized tends to leave us feeling betrayed, deflated, and misunderstood.

I am perfectly aware there is helpful criticism that should be welcomed but if we are the ones being critical we should remember that even when we are right there is a right way and a wrong way to accomplish our objective. The scripture warns us that we should not let our good be evil spoken of. Many factors should be taken into consideration before we open our mouths.

  1. Unless the person has made himself accountable to us we have little or no right to offer criticism.
  2. We should not answer questions that haven’t been asked.
  3. We should always be aware that there may be considerations which have governed the actions or speech of others of which we may be unaware.
  4. Many things of which we are critical, if left alone have a way of resolving themselves.
  5. We could be motivated by envy or jealousy instead of concern for the welfare of the person of whom we are critical.
  6. We should be aware that to criticize others makes us vulnerable to criticism in return.
  7. Any form of criticism we offer should leave others feeling good about themselves and their self-esteem intact.
  8. Will Christ be honored through what we do?

If we are the recipients of criticism, we can feel completely demoralized and defeated on the one hand or we can humble ourselves and see the hand of God even in things which seem to be completely destructive. Some thoughts that might be helpful if we find ourselves the object of criticism:

  1. We should humble ourselves knowing that even criticism delivered with ill intent can actually be a helpful message from God. Knowing that God works all things together for good, if nothing else, it might be working a much needed humility.
  2. We should earnestly search to see if there is validity to the criticism and if so make the adjustments that may be required.
  3. Look beyond the messenger and message to see if this is a message from God. Remember, God can use a donkey to deliver a message.
  4. Do not surrender the control of your life to another by taking offense. We become the slave of any one who has defeated us (2 Peter 2:19b) and when we take offense at criticism we are defeated by the one who is critical. From that moment on, we will be unable to function with complete freedom without wondering if we are pleasing our detractor.
  5. Practice the principle of overpowering evil with good (Romans 12:21) by employing the principles detailed by Jesus in Matthew 5:44: a). Bless them that curse you. b). Do good to them that hate you. c). Pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.
  6. Learn to listen with love and grace.
  7. Forgive instantly if we feel the criticism is unkind or unjust.

I trust that these observations will be helpful in your life.

Jeff

 

Because God Loved, We Can Love

The idea of love is a highly abused concept. From ancient times to the present people have sought it, received it, given it, and abused it. One must wander through a forest of semantics and wade through a swamp of corrupted ideas and ideals to find the essence of love in any culture.

Many mistakenly think of love in the sense of such emotions as passion or ecstasy. Couples entering into marriage with no more than sensual feelings will ultimately be disillusioned as passion begins to fail.

Love has never been more aptly modeled, described or expressed than in the gift of Jesus. He, Himself, quite adequately voiced it in John 3:16 when He said: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Continue reading “Because God Loved, We Can Love”