Small Group Questions

Faith That Works When The Pressure’s On: A Faith that plants seeds of peace. 

Introduction:

Every day you encounter many different kinds of people. Some are very delightful. Some are very difficult. Some of them are inspiring. Some of them are irritating, fascinating, intimidating. The fact is, a lot of the problems we have in life are because of personality conflicts. We don’t get along with people. When your relationships are bad, life stinks. Life is miserable. You may have lots of money and lots of opportunities but if your relationships are bad, you’re miserable. It’s very important that we learn how to get along with other people. We can contribute to that peace by being a peacemaker.

Bottom-line:

Something To Talk About: 

Today, we want to talk about how to become a peacemaker during these intense days of conflict, fighting, and chaos. Our world desperately needs Christians to be peacemakers. When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice. Consider the following three seeds: 

  1. If I’m wise, I won’t compromise the truth: In 1 John 3:3 integrity is used to refer to Christ’s character. If I’m really genuine, if I’m wise, I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not going to cheat you, I’m not going to manipulate you, I’m not going to be deceitful. I’ll be a person of integrity. Because all relationships are built on trust and respect. If you don’t have honesty who’s going to trust you? If you don’t have honesty who’s going to respect you? You have to have integrity in your life. If I am wise I will not compromise my integrity or the truth.
  2. If I’m wise, I won’t antagonize your anger:  Wise people work at maintaining harmony. They’re not always looking for a fight. Wisdom is peace-loving. Proverbs 20:3  says “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.” Three things that cause arguments. 1. Comparing: “You’re just like …”, “Why can’t you be like …”, “When I was your age…” You’re asking for a fight.  2. Condemning: “It’s all your fault”, “you should be ashamed,” “you lay on the guilt,” “you always,” “you never,” “you ought to,” “You should…” 3. Contradicting: How do you like to be interrupted in the middle of a sentence? It’s irritating. William James says, “The secret of wisdom is knowing what to overlook.” Some things are just not worth the fight. Wisdom is peace-loving. If I’m smart, if I’m wise in relationships, I won’t compromise my integrity and I won’t antagonize your anger.
  3. If I’m wise, I won’t minimize your feelings: “Wisdom is considerate” and “considerate” means “mindful of the feelings of others.” There is a common mistake that if I don’t feel the way you feel then your feelings must be invalid or illogical or irrational or silly. Proverbs 15:4 says “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Typically when we react to people’s emotions we say things that hurt. Often we belittle the feeling. We put people down, or we play psychologist. Wisdom is considerate. Allow your spouse to be tired without having to say, “I’m more tired than you are.” The fact is, you’re both tired. If you care you’ll be aware.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? What is an example of each? How do we confuse these two?
  2. What are the characteristics of earthly and heavenly wisdom found in James 3:13-18? Have you ever seen heavenly wisdom resolve conflict? What did it look like?
  3. In your experience and using only your failures, what are the top three causes of relational conflict in your life? Which of these causes has the potential to trigger an angry reaction in you?  
  4. In what area of your life do you need to be more open and willing to learn? 
  5. How does unknown bias or undetected pride prevent us from listening openly to others?
  6. Considering Proverbs 17:9, what do you need to stop bringing up or let go of?  
  7. What are some biases that you may need to confront and change?  
  8. Which of the three seeds of peace in this sermon do you find most challenging? 
  9. How does the way God wants us to respond to conflict and anger differ from our society’s normal response? 
  10. What can you do this week to plant peace in a relationship or situation which has been troubling you?
  11. What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?

Take one thing home with you:

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13)

It is football season…well kinda. And that provides us with the opportunity for some “armchair quarterbacking.” That unique time when every one of us can second guess the coaches and players. We look at the screen and confidently say, “I would have done so and so when the other team blitzed.” In the same way, we can play armchair quarterback with other people. We can criticize other friends who we think don’t get it. We can do the same thing to other Christians. It’s very easy to talk about what others should be doing when we are not actually making a difference ourselves. 

James wrote that our wisdom and understanding are not ultimately displayed by our words or our critique of others, but instead “…doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13). It is easier to sit on the “sidelines” and complain instead of rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty with the ministry or friends that need help. Don’t be that “armchair quarterback” at your church; get involved.