Keeping it Cool

“It is to a man’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” -Proverbs 20:3 (NIV)

Most of us have either been involved in or picked a quarrel with another person at some point in our lives. Often times, our quarrels are not even about serious things. Even the most trivial of matters are enough to start an argument that could easily spin out of control. Imagine how our relationships would be if we didn’t bicker over minuscule things. It would certainly be more peaceful that’s for sure. Yet our pride demands that we should always prove ourselves to be right, regardless of the situation. We do not want to admit when we are wrong because that makes us look deficient and weak. In our stubbornness, we sow the seeds of discord when we squabble. This can cause serious emotional and physical damage not only to ourselves, but to the people around us.

Ironically, our pursuit to vindicate ourselves in our quarrels ends up making ourselves look like utter fools. When others see our arrogance in our disagreements with people over insignificant matters, they shake their heads in dismay. Irritability and short-temperedness stem from pride, and pride should have no place in the hearts of those who claim to follow Christ. When He invades our lives, we stay close to Him and we gain the wisdom to know what battles to fight. Our anger should be saved for the things that anger Him; things such as the presence of injustice and sin in the world. There are times when the stance we take as followers of Him will invite strife, and in these moments we must remember to be firm but not hot-headed. Subsequently, we ourselves must not actively look to pick fights. Strife should come to us because of the nature of Christ’s message to the world, not because we have provoked conflict through our own behaviour. May we continually submit ourselves to Him and may His serenity and peace manifest itself in us so that we may be able to present Christ as the perfect refuge of those trying to escape turmoil.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Right Thoughts and Right Actions

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” –Matthew 5:21-22a

We all have had people we don’t like. Someone who is so insufferable that we cannot bear being in his presence. So obnoxious that it’s painful to hear him talk. The only thing that is restraining us from simply strangling him is the fact that murder would be a crime, not to mention the mess it would create. But if this is the only thing restraining us, what if we were in a secluded alley and could get away with murder if we could. I would say that if we could murder someone we completely despise without having to suffer consequences, we would do it in a heartbeat. In light of this how can we call ourselves better than people who openly commit murder? Sure we might look upon a murderer with disgust but how many of us could easily go down that path if the wrong buttons are pushed?

The Laws of the Pharisees focused on outward appearance, but never dealt with the condition of the heart. By implication then it was alright to hate as long as it did not develop into murder. But cannot hate develop into the act of murder? How many acts of genocide in the course of history have begun with thoughts of hatred and malice towards a certain group? Human action is determined by thoughts. Jesus knew this full well and declared that even those who hate in their thoughts are as guilty as committing the physical act of murder. But in light of these standards who can stand? We are truly depraved when we compare our thoughts to the standards of Christ. That is why we need Him; to constantly check our thoughts so that our actions would reflect His work in our lives. Charity done with a grimace loses its purity compared to when it is done with a truly loving and caring heart. Christ by His example compels us to love one another with all of our hearts. We may be able to purge ill-thoughts towards another person if we truly feel we can love them, but only the love of God in our lives can make us love the unlovable. We were unlovable to Him in our sin and yet He loved us enough to pay the penalty for our sins. May we display this love to others around us knowing this fact.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.