The Cure For Conflict
A daily devotion for March 24th
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
In saying this, the apostle is dealing with the basic remedy for all the conflicts in our day. Paul will apply this principle as he discusses the relationship of husbands to wives, which brings in the whole realm of marriage and divorce and the problems that arise there. Then he will take up the matter of children and parents, which brings in the whole issue of juvenile delinquency, causes and what can be done about it. Then he will take up the issue of management and labor. In each case, the remedy is always the same:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
If we have any desire at all to be part of a solution to the issues surrounding us today, we must do so out of an understanding of what God has revealed about the heart of the problem. We must go back to the cause of all human strife. There is no one who has not at some time asked the question,
How can I get the greatest satisfaction out of life? How can I get the maximum expression of my potential? How can I fulfill myself? It is not wrong to ask these questions because God has put these urges within us, but it is gravely wrong to ask them in this way.
When we ask the questions this way, we are asking as though we were the only person in the world, as though we were responsible for our own self-development. Sooner or later, in my attempts to develop myself and to gain satisfaction, I find myself on a collision course with someone else who is attempting the same thing. I find that my efforts to satisfy myself are continually sabotaged by others who are trying to achieve satisfaction in the same way. I insist on my rights, and others insist on their rights, and so we become obstacles to each other.
But Paul changes the whole pattern for Christians by introducing two radical factors that alter the whole situation. First, the Christian must never forget that in every relationship of life, another person is present: It is not merely a problem of what I want versus what you want. In every relationship, the apostle reminds us, a third Person is present—the Lord Jesus Christ.
That brings us to the second matter. When I am at odds with another person, to see that Christ is there too is to make me aware immediately of what He has taught me. It is only when I forget myself and devote myself to another's fulfillment that I will find my own heart running over with grace and satisfaction. This is one of the fundamental mysteries of life, and it is confirmed to us every day. Those who try desperately to satisfy themselves are the ones who end up hollow inside. Our Lord put it this way:
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it (Matthew 16:25).
It becomes, then, a question of priority. You cannot have your rights by insisting upon them. You can have them only when you seek to give others their rights. Do you dare to try this radical principle right where you live?
Father; I thank You for a word that searches me and cuts deep and lays bare and hides nothing. I know that in this sweet surgery of the Holy Spirit there is healing, forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration.
Life Application: When we insist on our rights, and others insist on their rights, we become obstacles to each other. What is one of the basic mysteries of life that prevents human conflict?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.