Friday, March 24, 2017

Devotion 3.25.17

Conflict - Psalm 127

In the area of management, there is a type of management called "quality management."  Known by several other names, quality management engages in the study of processes, the idea being to maintain a consistency in those processes in order to maintain a level of quality.  Quality controls yield a better ability to assure the customer that a high percentage of what you produce is within a standard of quality.  When a problem arises in this or that area, you look at data to find the "root cause."

What is the "root cause" of conflict?  If you enter "origins of conflict" on Google, it produces an abundance of answers from personal conflict to war.  Recently, in a Sunday morning presentation at church, we examined three types of conflict:  conflict within the person (inner conflict), between people, and between man and God.  In earthly terms, we talk about conflict as a tension, usually between two people who know each other and possibly have a history with one another.  Conflict grows from somewhere deep within that relationship. The conflict could have been fairly superficial at its start but has grown over time to a deeper form of resentment and conflict. 

During one of the greatest conflicts in our nation's history, a man asked President Lincoln if God was on the side of the North.  Lincoln's response was, "My concern isn't if God is on our side; my concern is if we are on God's side."  Spiritually, we know the "root cause" of conflict: sin.  We know the usual suspects in conflict:  pride, ego, will.  Spiritually, sometimes we arrogantly believe that because of our faith, clearly God is on our side rather than suspending our ego and asking, "Am I really on God's side." 

"Unless the LORD builds this house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." (Psalm 127:1 - 2)  The psalm is credited to Solomon who would later echo the sentiment of vanity in Ecclesiastes.  Vanity might perhaps be the greatest culprit in conflict.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3 to a church in conflict, "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?...  According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it.  Let each one take care how he builds upon it.  For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (3;10-11)

Unless the Lord Jesus Christ is our foundation, our labor is in vain.  When we come to conflict, we pray that our own jealousies, pettiness, and vanities are laid aside and that we seek God's will, not speak as though we know God's will.  When we come to conflict, those of us in the conflict should pray together to discover God's will and turn to His Word rather than allow our vanity and pride to talk as though we are acting on behalf of God.  Pray for wisdom, peace, and understanding in conflict - within families, within friendships, within congregations, and the world at large.

Hope Men's Ministry

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