Don’t Start That Fight!

“He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.” –Proverbs 17:19 (NIV)

It seems to be a universal fact that little boys are fascinated with bugs. I was no exception to this rule. One day as I was playing outside on a bright summer’s day, I came across an ant colony and a small stick. As I saw the ants hard at work, my inquisitive mind asked what would happen if I placed the stick inside the hole. I grabbed the stick and plunged it down into the ant colony. Nothing happened. It must be noted that my inquisitive mind was also a mischievous one, and I thought it would be a good idea to keep ramming the stick down the hole. To my horror I found a swarm of angry ants, and quite a few with wings, pouring up out from the hole wanting to know who was destroying their home. Terrified I dropped the stick and ran, my lesson duly learnt.

While we may know that it is probably not a good idea to agitate insects, or any other wildlife for that matter, sometimes it seems that this lesson does not apply in our interactions with others. Too often we use our words and actions to provoke others and cause unnecessary arguments. Why do we do this? The answer is found deep in our flawed human nature. Our pride loves opportunities where we can bring glory to ourselves. That is why pride is often what sparks arguments, because in quarrels we have the chance to prove to others that we are somehow superior or better than them. But if such an attitude has taken root in our minds, we will only reap destruction and misery as our stubborn pride tears cherished relationships apart. Our only hope to be spared from such a fate is when we have allowed Christ to be at the centre of our lives. When His Spirit has infiltrated every area of our being and we have submitted ourselves wholly to Him, He will teach us to be humble so that His love may overflow from within us; bringing life to our relationships and healing to the broken.

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.

Love Your Friends

“A friend loves at all times,”- Proverbs 17:17a (NIV)

The beautiful thing about friendship is that it is timeless. Even if close friends have been separated by time and distance, the love and bond between them still remains. God has blessed me with such friendships and my prayer is that I will be a good friend to the ones He has given me. But friendships can often be fragile, and it is tragic when friends part under unpleasant circumstances. When harmful attitudes such as anger, jealousy, or impatience seep into the minds of friends even the most trivial of offences can separate the strongest of bonds. The consequences of allowing these attitudes to infiltrate our minds are painful and as we look back on the memories of broken friendships we are filled with regret wondering if things could have been different if we had simply not taken the steps we took.

All of us are but humans and as such we have been tainted by sin. Due to our fallen state, it is easy for us to give into harmful and destructive attitudes. Sin tells us that we must always glorify ourselves and insist on having our way at all costs. But in reality when we place ourselves before others, we have actually bowed our knee to sin and allowed it to sever our relationship with God and with those we care about. How then can we make sure that sin does not get in the way of our relationships?  The truth is that we can do nothing about it by ourselves, but only by the power of Christ working within us. When we have allowed His Spirit to enter our hearts and seek to conform ourselves to Him in our attitudes and actions, He will carry out his restorative work in our lives. As we turn our face to Him and away from ourselves, He will train us in His love so that His love will overflow from our hearts and into the lives of others. Bearing with one another in love is something that only Christ can help us accomplish and when we choose to abide in Christ, He will order our friendships so that life may abound and hearts be turned to Him.

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.

Overcome Factions With Love

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” –John 13:35 (NIV)

Studying church history is quite fascinating. Yet it is also interesting to learn just how many times the church had to overcome factionalism in its history. Even from its early days the church had to deal with discord and schisms which erupted within its ranks on more than one occasion. Some of these disagreements even turned violent, and were in most cases motivated by personal or political reasons. As I read through the annals of church history I sometimes wonder whether I am reading about the same people who have been called by Christ Himself to love one another just as how He has loved us. It is no wonder that the disparity between the example of Christ and the behaviour of His children at times has become a source of confusion for many; prompting us to ask the question why does this happen?

If one thing can be said of the church it is that it has not survived for over two millennia because of the efforts of man. On the contrary it is because of the love of Christ and the grace which He shows to His church that it still stands strong today. The truth of the matter is that every single human being on this Earth is fallen. It is our pride embedded within us which leads us into sin and compels us to become embittered and fight against our fellow man. However, Christ came so that through Him our fallen nature will be cast aside and we will be restored to the people which He intended us to be. To this end He has given us a new nature through His resurrection characterized by His love and righteousness. But because we were slaves to our old nature for so long, we need to allow Christ’s Spirit residing within us to train us in our new nature and perfect His love in us. This means desiring to know Him and to know His heart by spending time reading His Word and being in His presence. Disagreements will happen, but if we choose to not keep in step with the Spirit of Christ, then factions and sin will be the result. It is only when we constantly submit ourselves in humility to Christ and allow Him to work out our His love through us that we are able to love others and maintain unity. The choice is ours. Will we allow sin to taint our witness for Christ, or will we allow Him to use us so that we may be His lights in a world which needs hope?

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.