Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today"1 (Lyrics)
I consider myself to be an avid reader. Though I like to read for information and enrichment, I also enjoy fiction and novels in good taste. So, when I recently came across a list of "must-read" literary classics, I decided to intersperse some of these well-known titles with my everyday reading.
I wanted to start off gradually with a relatively short, narrative-style book, and so, I began Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. This tale of adventure is set in Scotland in the 1700s. One memorable scene is that of a quarrel between the protagonist, David Balfour, and his renegade companion, Alan Breck. David and Alan are on the run for their lives with their enemies nipping at their heels. They are bone-achingly exhausted, hungry, cold, soaking wet, and covered in mud from their dangerous, arduous trek across the rugged Scottish Highlands.
Resting briefly in the safety of a mountain stronghold, the tension between them is palpable. David, by his own admission, is holding onto a grudge far too long, and finds himself unwilling to forgive Alan for a perceived offense. Alan sees the need for them to cooperate in order to survive, but David nurses his grudge, holding it close, unwilling to let it go. It is only when David finally realizes that their survival depends upon their willingness to work together that he unclenches his fist of resentment.
I found some pointed lessons in this scenario for dealing with personal differences:
- Don't try to work out a personal disagreement when you are tired, hungry, ill, or otherwise not at your best.
- Remember that words once spoken can't be recalled.
- Respect and acknowledge the value of the other person even if you don't agree.
- Don't nurse your grudge, enjoying the pleasure of being "right".
- Be quick to forget, not quick to remember.
These lessons are of value to anyone, but the following verses reflect and reinforce those ideas as they connect to our Christian life:
Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (NLT)
1 Peter 4:8 – Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. (NLT)
Let's make a commitment to work in harmony with others — particularly fellow believers — when we may not be in full agreement. What personal rights may we have to relinquish in order to attain this harmony?
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, You know the feelings of aggrievement and resentment that we often hide deep in our hearts. You alone can enable us to live in peace and harmony when we may be at odds with others. Give us grace to love and forgive those who are unlovable and unforgivable, just as You have loved and forgiven us. Amen.