Have you ever found yourself in an ambiguous situation where you wanted to do the right thing, but you were unsure what that meant in the moment? A situation where any direction you chose could have an ideal outcome, or a disastrous outcome and you just didn’t know which it would be?
Those are never fun situations to be in, especially when it is a relational situation. Recently, I was in that exact spot. I’m not sure what it is about me, but for some reason I want to befriend the bully. This is a weakness I have become very aware of, but it never ends well.
Over the years as I have grown as a therapist, and as I have focused much of my career on relationships, I have become aware of this tendency in myself. I have also understood that this tendency has come from my deep convictions as a Christian.
We are all taught to turn the other cheek (Luke 6:27), and the importance of laying down your life for others (John 15:13). We are also told that the fruit of the Spirit involves peace. I have spent my life laying down my life and turning my cheek, but it did not lead to peace.
As I was wrestling through this relational ambiguous situation I came across James 3:13-18 which says “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly... But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
This spoke to me initially, but I was not exactly sure what it meant in relation to my situation. Especially since my attempts at peace in the past hasn’t always reaped a harvest of peace, but rather more bullying. What I did know is that I wanted God’s wisdom in this situation, not more of being a “victim in the name of Jesus”.
What I also knew was that there is a difference between the loud and obnoxious in your face “I am right and you are wrong” version of wisdom, and the quiet and patient wisdom that is effective. What happens when wisdom means being strong enough to directly confront a situation and there is no way to keep relational peace as you do it? Surely the answer is not to ignore the problem, or let someone use others as their emotional “punching bag.” And then the answer came.
James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Sometimes situations are not cut and dry. Sometimes wisdom is not obvious. Though for some reason we think that it should be that easy, God allows us to wrestle with the tension of what we think, and what is.
He allows us to be in the fog where the answer is not as clear as we want it to be. This is not just in relationships. This is in life. “Do I move to Arizona or stay here?”,“Should I quit my job, or is there a purpose for the difficulty I am facing at this one?”, “Do I show mercy to my offender in this situation, or in doing so will I cause harm?” “Am I the problem in this relationship, or is the other person?”
Things are not always clear, even if we search the Scriptures for direction. This brings us to a place where we must turn to God and ask Him for wisdom.
There is another part that most of us forget. After asking we must quiet ourselves, wait, and listen for His answer. In our fast paced, distracted culture, this is hard for us to do. What I have observed is that most of us don’t even know how to quiet ourselves anymore.
I know I have a hard time doing it, even though I spend most days teaching others how to do it. I would like to challenge you to think about what it means to pause and seek out God’s wisdom in your life. Not just to pray and ask for guidance, but to then pause and really listen for an answer.
If you are looking for a place to learn how to draw closer to God, we would like to invite you to come be a part of our community at Olive Chapel. Our services start at 10:00 EST. We will have Dave Kenney speaking on August 18th, and another guest speaker on the 11th. We would love for you to come check us out.