Arguing?

Day 187

Prayer for the day

The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness.

Scripture for the day

Job 34-35, Acts 15:1-21

It seems an odd topic to address, but if you spend any time with other people, you’re going to encounter argument. They come in various shapes and sizes depending upon those who are involved. They are usually unpleasant, but not always so, and often create significant relational schism.

Yet at its root, argument can be an incredibly positive thing. It can illuminate the correct path, mend fences, and correct waywardness. It must, however, be approached in the Spirit.

Job’s friends have significant conflict with Job. They argue. And Job argues back. Some of the argument is civil, and some of it seems downright cruel, particularly in light of what has already happened (Job has, after all, lost most of his family through fairly violent means).

The difficulty in Job’s life is not simply that his friends are argumentative, but that they are unable to put some common ground between them. There is name-calling and cruelty involved in their argument, particularly when they accuse each other of lacking any sense or wisdom.

On a much more constructive note, the so-called Jerusalem Council passage in the book of Acts portrays the Apostles and others discussing the question of the necessity of circumcision for recent Gentile converts in Jerusalem and beyond.

The conversation they have regarding this is entirely God-focussed, telling the stories of what God has done among the Jews and the Gentiles and the character of God in all these things.

The conflict and discussion the Apostles engage in is something they feel led to discuss based on their understanding of the Holy Spirit and the work of God. There is nothing acrimonious about them, but they seek in all things the way of Christ.

What a world, if our churches, our families, and our workplaces employed this kind of conflict management!

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