Faith That Works When The Pressure’s On: A Faith that plants seeds of peace: Part 2
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.
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:
- If I’m wise, I won’t criticize your suggestions: A wise person can learn from anybody. He’s not defensive. He’s open to reason. He’s not stubborn. He’s willing to listen and learn. It really means reasonable, willing to listen, willing to be open to ideas and suggestions. Are you a reasonable person? Can your kids reason with you? The Bible says if you’re wise, you’re reasonable. You’re open to suggestions. You won’t be defensive. Most of us are too sensitive. Proverbs 12:15 “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” If it’s true, listen, and learn from it. If it’s false, ignore it and forget it. I won’t criticize your suggestions. I’ll listen to them.
- If I’m wise, I won’t emphasize your mistakes: Do you jump on people every time they blunder, every time they make a fault and fumble it? Wisdom is full of mercy. I won’t emphasize your mistakes. Do you ever let people go, or do you keep hounding them about their past mistakes? Do you hold them in leverage, and they never can be set free even if they have asked forgiveness? Proverbs 17:9 says, ”Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” If you’re wise you don’t rub it in, you rub it out. You don’t hold it over their heads. You forget it. When somebody stumbles, you don’t judge them. You encourage them. Mercy is a greater principle than judging.
- If I’m wise, I won’t despise our differences: A mark of a wise person is they don’t try to hide and disguise their own weaknesses. You don’t wear masks and try to be something you’re not. Real wise people are honest and open. They’re not phony. They’re genuine. They’re real and authentic. What you see is what you get with a really wise person. Proverbs 28:13 says, ”People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” It’s dumb to pretend that you’re perfect because it is an illusion. We see each other’s weaknesses all the time. Why do we walk around pretending that we don’t know? We do. If I’m wise I won’t disguise my weaknesses. People appreciate honesty. It also helps them to be more open.
- What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? What is an example of each? How do we confuse these two?
- Do you tend to trust people easily or does it take you a while to open up and trust someone with your thoughts/ feelings/ past history? As you are willing, share what experiences or messages have shaped how open or cautious you are in relationships with others.
- Where is the line between being biblically discerning versus being overly critical? Are we judging others when we criticize them?
- How can someone who is overly critical battle this tendency? What steps would help?
- Why is it so easy to find fault in others? Why do you think brothers and sisters in Christ talk one another down?
- It’s easy to focus on the similarities; it’s much more difficult to embrace the differences. Agree or disagree and why?
- How have you seen people’s differences in spiritual gifts and passions used to bring about a wider range of good in God’s Church?
- What can you do this week to plant peace in a relationship or situation which has been troubling you?
- What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?
Take one thing home with you:
We should be thankful for the differences in people; those differences come in handy. Most people do not want to expend the effort required in order to develop skills that don’t come naturally to them. It is easy to concentrate on what you are good at. God has placed people in churches with skills you may not have to further His kingdom. “The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” (1 Corinthians 12:21)
Many of us shrink back from being considered different than others and instead are anxious to blend in and be part of a group. Yet ironically, the herd mentality propagates the stress of not belonging because fitting in requires work. But acknowledging differences in yourself and others affirms belonging. Uniqueness makes a special place for each of those in your circle – including you. “so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” (Romans 12:5) There is value in uniqueness because each of you remains an important part of the whole.