What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong — you want only what will give you pleasure.
Ouch. Sure those word are true about somebody, but me? I can’t remember the last time I’ve schemed and killed and waged war.
Those words are from that great big book of wisdom called The Bible. (James 4:1-3 NLT) That’s not this week’s memory verse. I’ll get to that in a second. First though, let’s take another look at that paragraph. I think it may have more to do with me than I’m willing to admit.
Getting along with others is hard work. Sometimes other people are the difficult ones and sometimes it’s us. Either way, tension can spring up faster than we can say, “Me first.”
How often are we able to swallow our anger when the car in front of us cuts us off? Do we let it go immediately, or do we speed up to tail him just a little closer than necessary so he knows we’re mad?
How often do we let it go when we have a disagreement with the person at the Customer Service counter? Do we admit there are two sides to the situation and calmly walk away agreeing to disagree, or do we head back to work and tell anyone who will listen what jerks they are down at the “So and So” shop?
How good are you at stopping the path of gossip and letting it die at your ears instead of escalating the conflict? I know I have work to do.
I think we’re all a work in progress. There is room for growth. The question is, what are we spreading to our spheres of influence while we’re waiting for that growth to happen?
Our kids, our friends, our co-workers… they are all affected by our words and our actions today. That’s why this week’s memory verse gives us an alternative — and a promise to keep us on track.
“And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:18 NLT)
Here’s another way to say it from The Message translation: “You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”
When we choose to be gentle and reasonable (even when we don’t get our way) or hold our tongue when the words wanting to escape are hate-filled or anger-fueled, we become peacemakers. In our own little world and in the world at large.
Bit by bit, choice by choice, kindness by kindness, we begin to create the world we want to live in.
Yes, it’s hard work to get along with others, but the promise from God to be “righteous” far outweighs any temporary pleasure of being “right.”