Jesus didn’t waste his time quarreling or debating with anyone who stood between him, his calling, and the truth. Neither should you.
Ever feel like you can’t win for losing? For every step you take forward, you find yourself taking two steps back? Well, I know that feeling far too well this morning. Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”
I wouldn’t call myself an angry man, but like most people, I do get passionate when it comes to talking about things I love and care about, especially God, men, marriage, children, and education. Anyone who knows me knows those are my “hot buttons.” But I often forget that the enemy knows it as well. And if I’m not careful, and I don’t guard my heart, the enemy can easily use my “hot buttons” against me.
After a speaking engagement one night, I had the pleasure of having dinner with a small group. The night had gone incredibly well. The speaking event was considered a success, and I felt I had humbly and obediently allowed the Holy Spirit to speak to me and through me. Overall, it had been a great night, and dinner was no different. And to be quite honest, I was really feeling good about myself and what I had done and accomplished.
However, I was quickly reminded of Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Because right at the end of dinner, when we were getting ready to leave, the conversation shifted from a casual one to a theological one about the Bible and what it means to be a “real Christian.”
Most people know, including myself, that whenever you’re talking to a stranger, there are just certain topics you should try to avoid, mainly politics and religion (among other things); you just don’t do it. It’s not that you can’t talk about those things, but politics and religion can easily provoke offense. And although I wasn’t personally offended by the other person’s opposing views on the Bible and Christianity, I’m just more passionate about my views. As I drove home, I knew I had allowed my passion for my faith to get the best of me, because it seemed I provoked offense in the other person.
As I revisited Proverbs 15:18 the next morning, I realized that Jesus found Himself in similar discussions like this ALL the time with the Pharisees, and He often provoked offense in them as well. He offended others to the point of them attempting to bring physical harm to Him. But the point was, Jesus was so clear on His purpose and mission that He never felt the need to defend Himself or even argue His position. And that’s exactly where I fell short of God’s best for me last night. Yes, I respectfully “argued” my position, but I did it for about two hours; and that was two hours too long. Not to mention, I had to drive an hour and a half to make it home (barely before midnight) not having seen my wife and my daughter the entire day. It wasn’t worth it.
The point is, Jesus didn’t waste His time quarreling or debating with anyone who stood between Him, His calling, and the truth. His focus and gaze was always on God, not what others thought about Him, but rather on what God called Him to do.
Often times, like that night, whenever I’ve disagreed with someone, felt taken advantage of, or didn’t get my way, I’ve found myself taking my eyes off of God’s desires and placing them on my own. My interaction that night wasn’t about God’s purpose, it was about MY purpose, MY expectations, and the validation of MY position; and it cost me more than it should have. Not only did I fail to put God’s desires first when I engaged the person in a debate, I also failed to consider that person’s desires (and spiritual state of mind) as well. Yes, it was a humbling lesson last night, but it was a necessary one; and it’s one from which I hope to learn and continue to grow.
MY PRAYER: “God, help me to develop a Christ-centered, other-oriented consciousness in serving You and serving others. Please forgive me for my self-centeredness. I wear a “It’s Not About Me” bracelet on my wrist to remind me to keep my gaze on You, but that’s not enough. Help me fully embrace its meaning and to walk in its truth; help me to apply it to my daily walk with You and through my interaction with others. God, show me how to extend the same kind of grace, mercy, and patience to others that You continue to show to me. Amen.”
Your Study Verse: A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a patient man calms a quarrel. – Proverbs 15:18