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Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. Ephesians 4:2 (CEV)

The facts of this story are made up. The reality of the story is repeated at different levels all over the world. Those who Jesus prayed would love each other as a sign of God’s love spend time fighting about things of finite importance while the things of eternity are overlooked.

First Church was a charming church in a mid-sized city in the Midwest. The church was over 100 years old and had remained a solid influence in the community. Many were baptized, married and buried as a result of First Church.

As the small town grew, so did First Church. As a result it soon began to feel growing pains and it was evident that something had to change. Since it was located on a lot that encompassed and entire city block, the church leaders proposed adding on to the current sanctuary in order to minister better to the younger generation.

That’s when the trouble began. The thought of changing the century old building didn’t sit well with the Smith family. Great-great-grandpa Smith was one of the charter members of First Church. The family was wealthy and influential at First Church as well as in the entire town.

Then again, so were the Jones’. Old Martin Jones owned the lumber company that provided all the lumber for the building…free. Jones’ Lumber Company still held a sizable investment in the community and promised a good price on material for the building program.

Soon the church was divided between those siding with the official ‘Smith’ delegation and those who agreed with the Jones’ and the leadership that something must be done and adding on was the best, least intrusive way to improve the ministry.

Eventually, the disagreement moved outside church walls and into the courts as the Smith’s and Jones’ decided to duke it out in front of a judge. The lawsuit included the church and put a sizable strain on the church budget, not to mention the spiritual atmosphere of the church family.

The fight became so intense that eventually many left First Church and started their own church across town in the school gymnasium. The legal fees and the loss of membership not only tainted the image of First Church, it forced them to close their doors.

How we respond to people we disagree with determines our view of God’s power and their view of God’s Grace. The Apostle Paul challenged the church in Ephesus (and us?) to live in harmony with each other. The word ‘gentle’ can also be translated ‘meek.’ Meekness means we set aside our own feelings for a greater good. Meekness means we see the Kingdom of God as being more important than the work of a man’s hands.

The one admonishing the church to live in gentleness was far from gentle in his earlier life. Look at the description of Saul (Paul) before his conversion: Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2 (NIV)

What was the difference? Saul met Jesus. One need only to read the letters Paul wrote to the New Testament church to see that even in his gentleness, he never lost his tenacity. It was just redirected from his own personal convictions to the leading of the Savior.

We aren’t called to change people. We are called to be meek and allow God’s power to change people. The meek not only inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), they show the world the love of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you prayed in the garden for unity and love to show through us so others will see you. We haven’t done well with that. Help us to live in unity so others will see you. Amen.

 


Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 (NLT)

How do you respond to someone who attacks you? Or maybe the question should be “Do you respond or react?”

Reaction is immediate, swift and impulsive. Response involves thought and time and deciding if the best action is non-action. Sometimes, of course, the situation itself dictates the answer to that question. For example, when physical harm is imminent there is no time to waste. Action must be swift.

There are other times when our best action may not be reaction but taking time to step back and consider our response. The human reaction when we are attacked is either fight or flight. The decision is often determined by our ability, or perceived ability to win. That’s what it’s really all about isn’t it? Isn’t that why the guy cut you off yesterday? You were in HIS lane? Isn’t that why you felt so good (for awhile anyway) when you didn’t give a tip to that incompetent, rude server at the restaurant during lunch? Isn’t that why you got into the face of your teenager when they were disrespectful to you ‘for the last time’? It was all about control, all about who will come out on top.

From the very beginning of time, every conflict has been about who will control what or whom. That was the motivation behind Satan as he entered the garden, it’s the basis of every national and family conflict ever since. We want to win and sometimes we want to win at all costs.

Psalm 37:11 teaches us, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.”

That’s just the opposite of how we normally think. It’s not the meek that get anything except to be treated as doormats. But meekness isn’t weakness; meekness is having power that is under control. As believers in Jesus Christ we are not called to be doormats, we are children of the king. We are, however called to be meek. We have all the power of the Triune God on our side, but we are to consider how we can be meek when it comes to our own way.

Meekness is hard because meekness means that even though we have all power and even though we may be right, we release the situation in which we feel attacked or mistreated to God so that he can handle it.

Meekness means we wait for God’s timing, not our own. God has promised to protect us. He’s promised to be with us, to walk with us during the dark valleys of life. Sometimes his promises seem slow, but they are not slow. He’s just much more patient than we are.

Meekness means we trust God’s methods. When we are mistreated or attacked we have a pretty good idea of how it should be handled. Usually, if we are honest, it will be handled in a way that gives us glory. However, God’s intention is never to give us glory; God’s intention is to bring glory to Himself; it’s never about revenge but always about restoration.

Meekness goes against every human part of us. It can only come as we learn to give control of our lives to Jesus through the power of His Holy Spirit.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I confess that many of the conflicts I’m involved in are a result of my demands for my own way and not for your glory or the restoration of others. Empower me with your Spirit to give you the control in the conflicts in my relationships. Amen.


Your Majesty, look at what I’m holding. You can see that it’s a piece of your robe. If I could cut off a piece of your robe, I could have killed you. But I let you live, and that should prove I’m not trying to harm you or to rebel. I haven’t done anything to you, and yet you keep trying to ambush and kill me. 1 Samuel 24:11 (CEV)

“You deserve this,” David thought as he watched Saul enter the cave where he was hiding with his small group of men.

It had to have been fate. Saul had been trying to kill David for years. Although David had been anointed King by the prophet there was no indication that the throne would be his anytime soon.

Creeping through the shadows, knife in hand, he moved closer to Saul who was preoccupied with relieving himself in what he thought was an empty cave. One slash with the knife and the kingdom was his; the kingdom that was rightfully his in the first place.

Great story, huh? Trouble is, that’s not what happened. No one would have blamed David for taking Saul out that day in the cave. He was an arrogant, angry, deranged man.

Did David have a right to kill Saul that day? Yes.

Did he have the opportunity to kill Saul? Certainly.

Did he have the power to kill Saul and execute revenge upon him? Definitely.

David’s action that day in the cave was not only an act of mercy, it showed meekness on David’s part. Meekness isn’t the same as weakness, in fact meekness is just the opposite. Meekness is power under control. David chose to act with integrity and set aside his rights in order to wait for God’s timing to get the kingdom promised him.

Our culture has taught us that success comes from being the strongest; from standing up for your rights; from being the best at all costs. But Jesus says “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

Meekness isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s part of our human nature to want to be on top, to succeed, to receive the accolades, the relationships and the status (power) to overcome.

There are many other examples of people in the Bible who chose not to use their power and rights to overcome those who were against them. His name was Jesus Christ. As God in the flesh, Jesus was misunderstood, mistreated, mocked and eventually killed. He had every right to put a stop to the way he was treated, but he didn’t because in order to give you life he had to renounce his own rights.

Setting aside your rights for others isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of Christ-likeness.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus it’s so easy to get caught up in the desire to be right, to take what is mine, to demand my own way. Especially when I’m pretty sure I’m right. Give me wisdom and strength to be strong enough to be meek. In your name I pray, Amen.

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