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A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. Proverbs 16:28 (NLT)

It can start harmlessly enough. A word of concern here. A sarcastic comment there. It can be couched in a spiritual sense as a prayer request. It can be intentional or unintentional. Regardless of intent or type, once planted the seed germinates. It finds new ears that will listen; fertile soil of discontent.

The ‘troublemaker’ of Proverbs 16:28 conjures up the word picture of a sower spreading his seed. Unlike farmers of today, the seed wasn’t planted in neat rows and evenly spaced. It was thrown, strewn across the ground in a somewhat haphazard manner. Some fell on hard ground and was became a hungry birds breakfast. Others landed in rocky or weed choked ground and was soon forgotten because it was overwhelmed by what was already there. But the seed that landed on ground willing to accept it found a home in which to grow.

Jesus talks about the ‘Sower and the seed’. Every sermon I’ve heard (or preached myself) on the topic teaches us the importance of being fertile soil for good seed. But what if the sower is sowing seed of discontent, gossip, anger or hate? The meaning of that story was the importance of being fertile ground for God’s word to make a fruitful difference in our lives.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. We can be fertile ground for the peace-breakers in our lives. Peace-breakers are those people who seem to be able to find something wrong with everyone and everything. They can label their words as spiritual concern, but they really destroy peace and relationships.

Jesus said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Conflict in relationships is inevitable. We have different likes and dislikes; we see things from different perspectives; we have different backgrounds to base our feelings on. When conflict comes into your life it is important to handle it in a way that doesn’t destroy people, even if they have hurt you. Be a peace-maker, not a peace-breaker.

When you have a conflict with someone make sure that you deal with the person you are in conflict with. Don’t sow seeds of frustration over the incident with those around you. Even if you resolve that conflict, the seed sown in fertile soil will continue to grow.

When a sower of ‘discontent’ tosses seed your way be so full of the Holy Spirit that those words find no landing place. Don’t allow the peace-breaker to change your opinion of others.

Most of the conflict we have in the church is over trivial matters in regards to eternity. People argue over the ‘correct version’ of the Bible, or the ‘best music’ for worship and the list goes on and on. Jesus calls us to peace so that the world can know his peace through us.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, forgive us for the times we’ve acted as peace-breakers and not peace-makers. Forgive us for the times we’ve been fertile ground for seeds of discontent or for those times we’ve been ‘sowers’ of discontent. Help us show the world the peace you’ve promised us. Amen.

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