by Billy Beasley
Romans 12:8 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
I try to follow this scripture as much as possible. Before anyone suggest sainthood for me, I do it as much or more for self-preservation. Many of us, at some point have taken the Myers Brigg personality test. I am an INFJ. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger.
While I am certainly no authority, I would think that your personality is pretty well set at a young age, but that does not mean that certain things in our makeup will not shift over time. The above statement about conflict has certainly not been as true for me many years ago, as it is today. I will do about anything to avoid arguing over any subject.
But sometimes it is too close to completely avoid. It could be a coworker, a family member, or a neighbor. As hard as it is for me to fathom, there seems to be people in this world that wake each day, determined to find as many people and things they can argue about. Even if they have to invent things.
Take for example the neighbor, who over time is in dispute with everyone in the neighborhood. Or perhaps the person who has been married five times and each time it was their spouse who caused the downfall of their relationship. Or the person who has been fired from ten jobs in a row and their perspective is that they had a bad boss each time that treated them poorly.
What is the common denominator in these scenarios? As someone who internalizes way too much, it is hard to understand that there are people who simply lack introspection. My father was that way. I would be appalled at some of the things he said to others and to me and I would point it out and he would get this distant look on his face—and it took me time to realize he truly did not understand. He couldn’t see any wrong he had done.
So, as a Christian, how do we deal with these types of people? It would be great to live the scripture from Romans 12:8, but it sure is hard when all we want to do is tell them off or worse. And when is it that time when we just have to meet the problem head on and when we choose to do that, how do we go about it? I wish I could tell you how successful I have become in this area. I can’t. I fail miserably.
I am writing this on a Sunday morning, fresh off an inspiring message from our pastor, Jeff Kapusta, on faith. To be more precise, how to walk in faith. How we can walk in faith or fear but we can’t walk in both.
It came to me as I sat there listening, and thinking about someone who seems to thrive on conflict at every turn. What if we attempted to meet every situation with our faith at the forefront? But that is hard for us to do isn’t it? Everything sounds so simple and achievable on Sunday morning, while surrounded by so many wonderful, loving, encouraging people. Monday morning arrives with work situations, neighbors, and relatives coming at us hard. Someone cuts us off in traffic. Another is rude to us for no reason.
This goes beyond dealing with difficult people. It is in every aspect of our lives, good or bad. What is our first reaction when offended or a difficult situation occurs? I am ready to handle it the way I see fit. Why does it take hours for me to come back to the source we have that we should seek first in all matters?
A somewhat practicing Catholic once felt the need to share with me about the importance of Mary. He said that it was like when Mary asked Jesus to turn the water to wine. That his understanding was that we should take minor things to Mary and the bigger things to Jesus. I mean no offense to any of my Catholic friends and I am not even sure if he was taught that by an authority figure in the Catholic Church, but I could not disagree more with his viewpoint. How many times does the Bible use the world all in our relationship with God? He wants it all. Big, little, and He desires, I believe, that we seek Him in all our matters. And that includes when we have trouble with other people.
I think these disputes come down to this. Do we confront a worldly problem with a worldly attitude or with an attitude of faith?
I am not where I want to be, but I thank God I am not where I use to be. Still, I think the crowning jewel in my walk of faith, during my remaining time here, would be to consistently pause when conflict arises and press into Jesus Christ, seeking His help and guidance.
I am not there…
About the Author
Billy Beasley resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie and their Australian Cattle Dog, Teke. They are active members of Lifepoint Church in Wilmington, NC.
Billy is the author of The River Hideaway - a traditionally published work of faith based fiction and the newly published novel, The Preacher's Letter. He shares two simple beliefs with his favorite character in this novel. Faith in God and a conviction that ‘Hearts have no color’.
You can read his “Sunday Inspiration” column on the 2nd Sunday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.