Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Peace-Making: Choose Your Weapon

Any home with young children and/or junior highers is going to be a home with a degree of strife in it.  Peace is at a premium, and strife is a dime a half-dozen.  Haha!  That's my husband's humor.  I have six "turbulent elements" swirling around me all the time.  How am I going to fight the strife?  How will you?  I am swept up with wonder and amazement at how God's Word speaks so clearly.  To me.  Right where I am.
This passage highlights two different weapons (one unmentioned weapon) to combat sin and to reach others.  One reliable, one not so.

James 3:17&18  "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.  And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

Here's the cheat-sheet.
God's weapon of choice:  "Wisdom from above" (filled with peace and peace-making)
Man's inherited weapon:  "Earthly wisdom" (selfish ambition, jealousy, arrogant, natural)


I have to say, I have never really meditated on my role as a mother to be a "peace-making" role.  You might think that with six kids I might have thought about this sooner!  Anyway, that changed earlier this week, when I stumbled upon these verses.
As promised (to all of my faithful readers-hahaha!!  Clyde, are you there?) in my last post, I pulled the commentary on James, and proceeded to learn more about these verses.  Listen to Hiebert on being a peace-maker:  "This heavenly wisdom (from 3:17) is ready for peace, desiring and fostering peace by restraining discord and pacifying the turbulent elements around it."  STOP HERE!!
Can I tell you how I read this?  I have SIX precious little "turbulent elements" around me!!!  This speaks to me!  I'm ready for the "peace challenge" (I think) and thankful for Hiebert's encouragement.  I'm not sure that James or Hiebert had mothers in particular in mind, but that's okay.  I couldn't help but notice that the James passage has THREE references to "peace", and Hiebert also mentions peace in three ways.  That's a lot of peace.  More from Hiebert: "It (wisdom from above) promotes right relationships between man and man, and between man and God."  Can I rephrase this in this way?  "(Wisdom from above) promotes right relationships between child and child, child and parent, and between children and God."  And then this:  "But even when fighting against sin, (wisdom from above) hungers for peace, yearning to heal all divisions by it's wise counsel."  Wow.  So you mean I shouldn't end the strife by shouting the loudest?  C'mon, I'm fighting against their sin!  And I am the parent, after all.  I have the authority.  Yes, perhaps I can force my children to end the strife by shouting the loudest.  However, here's the sting I'm feeling right now.  Is that "wisdom from above"?  Or isn't that hypocrisy?  If I'm yelling angrily to stop them from yelling angrily at each other, what is that if it's not hypocrisy?  I'm in trouble.

Now that this post is way too long, I am compelled to add the rest of the passage about wisdom.

James 3:13-16  "Who among you is wise and understanding?  Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic."

There goes James with the interrogative approach (my husband is so smart).  He hooks you with the question that all of us want to raise our hand to.  "Yes!  Yes!!  I have wisdom!  I have understanding!!"  Then, while my arm is in the air, he swiftly grabs the dagger and jabs it straight into my heart.  Perhaps that's a little strong.  But I felt it.  I felt it when he said, "gentleness of wisdom".  I felt it when he challenged my "selfish ambition".  I mean, I just want a little peace and quiet (ironic).  I just want the fighting to stop.  I just want to have one quick phone conversation.  I just want to check facebook uninterrupted.  I just want to finish dinner now.  I just need to get the laundry done.  I just want a little more sleep.  I just want to take a hot bath.  I.  I.  I.  I.  I.  I.  I.  I.  I.  What do you mean "selfish ambition"??  Hm.  And did he just call me "DEMONIC"???  Seriously? Oh. my. goodness.  It's time to take this seriously.


Here are my G.A.I.N. moments for now (that means "Get After It NOW").  My heart is convicted of my anger.  Yes, I am still a pretty laid-back person, and most days don't bring me to a desperate search for help like this past week.  But God is so faithful to bring trials to transform us (Romans 5:3-5) Sometimes the only way I'm driven to my knees and the search is through trials like I faced last week. I am SO grateful.  Sometimes a clearer perspective- or should I say a "biblical perspective" and a more informed mind and conscience is the simplest way to move forward and be changed. I will keep informing my mind of this through reading these scriptures.
My next G.A.I.N. moment: Confession.  I'm committed to confessing to the Lord, my kids and to my husband when I lose it.  Ugh.  That's a tough one.  I John 1:9.  James 5:16.
Last one.  I will continue to think through ways to promote peace without sighing and glaring at my kids.  Ooo.  That's embarrassing to admit.  I think I'll tell them this one too, which I'm sure they'd be glad to help me be accountable to it.


The difference in results between offering earthly versus heavenly wisdom (or "wisdom from above") is potentially eternal in significance.  If we continue in unrepentant sin against our children, we certainly put them at a high risk to "turn us off" and miss the gospel.  It is tragic how often we see the disconnect between well-meaning (but potentially angry?) Christian parents and their rebellious teens/pre-teens.  As a great band once put it, "If you want to lead me to Jesus, you'd better find a better way...cause your life is speaking so loud I can't even hear a word you say."  If we imagine our kids turning to Christ one day, we must seriously consider James' exhortation to "show by (your) good behavior (your) deeds in the gentleness of wisdom."  Two key words here.  "Gentleness"- which is tough for us young moms with multiple kids.  Another key word- "show".  Stop telling, and start showing.  I think I could write another whole blog on this.  But I won't.  Not now, at least.
The difference between {fighting my sin and selfishness to offer them "wisdom from above"} and {pushing or spewing angry "earthly wisdom"} is:

The difference between fostering and demanding.
 It's the difference between me sowing "the seed whose fruit is righteousness" and alienating my children from me through my anger and hypocrisy.  
It's the difference between Christ reaching the heart of my child with His saving message and me being temporarily satisfied with quiet.  Or whatever I want.
It's (potentially) the difference between temporary peace and quiet in my household and eternal peace between my children and God.

Is it worth the fight?  Absolutely.  I'm in.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I wish I would have found this two days ago - yikes! Thanks for making your post extra long :)