“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy…” Hebrews 12:14
Confrontation has never been easy for me. I tend to prefer to keep the status quo and forgive the wrong without addressing the underlying issue. This solution has the appearance of peace but none of the lasting effects. While my flesh prefers to yield to my “flight response” and ignore the “fight” instinct that rises up, there are times when I know I must make a stand. As a yielded vessel of the Holy Spirit, I must listen to His promptings to know when to act and how.1 Being Spirit-led like that has not been easy for me to cultivate and I definitely don’t always get it right, but I continue to grow.2 I know His grace is sufficient.3
A friend texted me recently and wrote some things that hurt and stirred up confusion. Her words attacked what God has called me to do in this season. The offensive onslaught hit like a battering ram against the faith shielding me.4 Flaming arrows sought weak spots within my armor; tender spots where remnants of old wounds threatened to reopen. She wasn’t the enemy.5 No, she was being used as a pawn in a much larger battle. The stakes were high… my faith, my identity, my purpose, my calling, my anointing. A smoldering heap of rubble was all the enemy wanted to remain.
My first instinct was to break contact with this friend, to write the relationship off as toxic. I would lick my wounds, forgive her, and move on with my life. In the past, that has been my go-to response. Unfortunately, this pattern has also made it hard for me to stay in relationship with people, so I would not advise adopting my former methods.
Let’s pause for just a sec. Can I get an “Amen” that friendships can be hard? Like really hard! Sometimes a monk’s life of solitude seems preferable to the effort and work required to cultivate a healthy relationship with another human. But anyway, I digress.
This time, the Lord would not allow me to wallow in that old pattern. He gently reminded me that the issue needed to be addressed, not only for my sake but also for hers. I was a little stubborn, so He unfortunately had to tell me more than once. I long for the day when I hear His voice and immediately obey.6 No delay, only simple childlike faith coupled with radical obedience, this is my highest goal.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
I sat down at my computer, a conundrum of racing heart and quiet spirit. I told the fear and anxiety to hush and began to type. I allowed His Spirit to guide me and speak through the words clickety-clacking onto my screen. As I typed, the Comforter reaffirmed my identity. He spoke life-giving words into my purpose and calling. The unbelief was crushed and gave way to simple faith as I allowed His voice to become louder than the enemy’s lies and twisted truths that had pierced my mind.
The enemy always overplays his hand. When the lies came that stirred up anxiety and confusion, I recognized that they were not life-giving words from my Creator. I discerned the spiritual battle that was being fought and pressed in to hearing God. I sought Him in the secret place.7 Like Psalm 46:10 suggests, I became still and knew He was God.8 And then I also knew what was attacked revealed exactly what the enemy wanted me to avoid. Much like it is easier to see the flame of a candle when the darkness surrounds it, the attack of the enemy actually illuminated the route I was to take.
It’s also important to note that I chose to not take offense against my friend.9 Holding onto offense is extremely dangerous and a trap straight from the pit of hell. Taking offense gives the enemy access to our hearts and minds. Offense creates a wound that if ignored will fester and become putrid. Nursing the offense leads to bitterness, unforgiveness, and all sorts of unpleasant effects. (If you desire to live a life free from offense, I highly recommend Bait of Satan by John Bevere.)
And do you know what happened? Those words spoken deep into my soul by the Holy Spirit did not bring shame or condemnation to my friend.10 The words that I was led to send her opened her eyes to where she had been deceived but in a way where she felt affirmed, loved, forgiven, and accepted.11 If I had done things my way and retreated from relationship, there would have been no healing, no recalibration, no reconciliation.
My way stinks. His way is beautiful.
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” Psalm 143:10
My human perception of peace can get twisted to mean no conflict under any circumstances. I have to remember that there is often turbulence before you break through the storms and fly above the clouds. Sometimes confrontation has to happen in order for there to be lasting peace with another person. Relationships are hard, but healthy relationships are worth pursuing.
Peace with another human requires forgiveness, honest communication, and two people willing to listen with humility. If reconciliation is not possible, trust God that it may simply be a timing issue. Follow His peace; if you do not have peace about reaching out to the other person, the lack of peace may be a warning that an attempt to reconnect is not the right step to take at that time. Pray for the other person to be blessed and for the Holy Spirit to reveal the method and timing in which He wishes to restore the relationship. He will lead you into all truth if you will yield your will to His.12
May God bless you with the wisdom and courage to pursue peace in all your relationships.
- My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
- For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14
- But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
- In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16
- For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
- He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28
- But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6
- He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
- Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
- Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
- But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13
(Note: All Scriptures in this post were taken from the NIV.)