February 20, 2012
Editor’s Note: Today we celebrate Stepping Stones’ 3rd birthday and thanks to you, 7,200 people get Stepping Stones emailed each day. We estimate over 15-20,000 receive it each day through Facebook and the web. We get great encouragement and testimonials from you daily and we thank you so much. Please email us with your comments about how Stepping Stones impacts you or how we can improve. Let’s shoot for 10,000 by our 4th birthday, but we need your help by forwarding this to your loved ones.
Conflict, such a powerful word … it conjures up many different feelings and tapes in our head. If someone in the Stepping Stones community had a positive thought when I mentioned conflict, I will give them a copy of Edging Forward for free! But in today’s scripture, Paul exhorts believers to agree with one another, to love each other, and to work together with one mind and purpose. The attitude and action plan Paul proposes is in opposition to the message about conflict I picked up at home and the culture I grew up in.
Jesus’ last instructions, moments before he ascended to heaven, leave no doubt about what the church is to be doing: “And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
If we are to be effective witnesses as Christians, we need to work together with one mind and purpose – the mind of Christ. Our witness can be hurt … and even destroyed … if we are consumed by pride as evidenced by bickering, gossip, stinginess, and other habits that can only lead to strife and division. We need to set aside personality conflicts, social differences, cliquishness, and anything else that divides us and keeps us from accomplishing the purpose God has for us and for those to whom we minister to on His behalf.
Conflict is obviously more complex than this, but a “my kingdom come, my will be done” instead of “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done mentality” is the key ingredient that steers the process to a fleshly demise instead of a God-glorifying experience.
Many excuses allow us to cringe, fall back, and avoid working through a conflict with another person. Don’t fall into the laziness trap. We all have either an addiction to or a need for comfort in the face of difficult but important decisions. In the long run avoiding the conflict will be more harmful to you than the temporary uneasiness you’ll feel while trying to solve the conflict. Just think, all of your rewarding relationships took big steps forward when you were able to navigate a conflict with that person. The collaboration, trust, forgiveness, and identification of a shared goal were monumental rewards from that conflict.
Today, think of an area in your life in which you are experiencing division with a sister or brother in Christ. Are you putting Christ in the center? Your greatest need should be to please God and honor Him, not ease your own discomfort, guilt, or ego. Specifically acknowledge an incident or situation where you have failed in the area of relationship. Prayerfully examine how pride might be playing a role in the division. Life is your decision, so choose well.
My Father and my Lord, Please forgive me for sometimes allowing pride or other wrongful attitudes to lead to division with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to do my part to walk in unity so that we all are effective witnesses for Jesus, accomplishing what You have called us to do. Help me build courage to withstand the pain, hurt, or anger I sometimes feel in conflicts, knowing You can provide more to me in that pain than in the good times. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the perfect witness, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Philippians 2:2