by Pastor Tim Burt
It’s winter here in Minnesota and although I love parts of winter, I dream about summer frequently this time of year. I remembered this one day last summer. I was out on a lake on a beautiful sunny summer day. There was no wind. The lake was like glass—like one big mirror reflecting the sky and the trees around it. It was so beautiful and peaceful, it was mind-blowing! Thinking about that this morning made me think of the words perfect peace from Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”
Today I want to suggest to you a simple truth that is a principle of God motivated by love and a desire for greater peace in your life.
In 1 Kings we read that King Solomon had just died. During his reign his kingdom had experienced 40 years of peace which may have been the longest and most peaceful reign of any king ever. His son Rehoboam had begun to take over. He wanted advice about making a change in how the kingdom was run. The people wanted to know what kind of king he was going to be. They were a tired people. King Solomon had taxed the people hard and worked them hard. Rehoboam went to his young advisers—men that he had grown up with who had little to no experience but were promoted like he was to this new position. He also went to his older advisers—wise men that had served for a great many years under his father.
We read in 1 Kings 12:9-11. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?” The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist—if you think he was hard on you, just wait and see what I’ll be like! Yes, my father was harsh on you, but I’ll be even harsher! My father used whips on you, but I’ll use scorpions!'” This was cruel and uncompassionate advice from novices that were cocky and egotistical gloating in their new power.
The older advisers gave Rehoboam contrary advice. “The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to serve the people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.” 1 Kings 12:7 This is not the advice that Rehoboam took, but it is the advice that would have won over the people and the kingdom. He refused it and instead listened to his young advisers taking the advice that doomed his kingdom and reign.
Proverbs 15:1 tells us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” It’s more than just the gentle answer that has true results. It’s the gentle answer that comes not as a manipulative tactic, but from a sincere and caring heart that desires unity and peace.
Some people foolishly seem to love conflict and get joy out of flexing their muscles and ego while stoking the fires that provoke anger. This should not be the case of a Christian. If you are a lover of God, then you have the Holy Spirit instructing you to be a person that truly wants to serve and help people. When conflict arises, pause and let the Spirit of God arise within you. Instead of defensively sparring back, pause, ask for God’s grace in a momentary prayer, and then, giving place for the Holy Spirit to speak through you, give a reasonable and gentle answer. Answer as one that takes into consideration what the other person is trying to get across. If you will be considerate of their position and make concessions and work with them wherever you can, then you will not only turn away wrath, you will have people who respect you, are more loyal and willing to work with you, and you’ll experience much greater peace and harmony in your life.
When your heart has been transformed by God to sincerely want things to work out with people, you can because your heart is not stubborn. You are not selfish just to get your way, but rather, your heart desires to work toward the best resolve possible. When you’ve learned this, you’ll experience fewer stormy days and more peaceful days—even a few more that are like that beautiful still day on the lake.
A sincere love for people, a heart to serve others, and a heart that sincerely and respectfully cares for other’s interests and concerns is one who has the heart of God. It will bring more agreement and harmony and much more of a peaceful life.
Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT2) “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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