Gleanings (12/21/11) – Rules of Engagement

Titus 2:11-3:8a

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for honest work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all men.”

So this is what Titus is to teach. How much more should he live the example!

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for godly men to disregard rules for fair fighting when engaged in a battle? The end, winning, seems to justify the means. In the face of conflict, barbs start to fly, quarreling intensifies and “perfect courtesy” is all but forgotten. Unfortunately I’ve seen church rows that begin with “Let’s get ready to rumble” and end with threats of scorched earth or the threat of lawsuits asking the civil courts to address things for which Holy Spirit filled people are supposed to have greater wisdom.

How we navigate conflict is as important as resolving it. Ambassadors and reconcilers licensed by Jesus cannot avail themselves of just any means in battle. One must stand his ground without abandoning our charge to common decency as outlined above by Paul to Titus.

How is this done? Not easily. Ever. But first we must set aside the goal of winning. Winning isn’t everything. In fact it is nothing if the victory is pyrrhic. Communion is far more important. We are so inclined to Matthew 18 when Paul allows us another way forward, “why not be wronged.” We are granted the freedom to pardon without expectation.

Next we must remember the person coming at us is as convinced that his righteous indignation is warranted as much as we are. And barring a declaration to the contrary, he remains a brother in Christ. Abandoning rules of engagement doesn’t rise to the level of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

Finally, just love. It seems weak to the world. But God has a penchant for shaming the wise with the foolish and shaming the strong with the weak.

Rules of engagement matter and the world is watching.

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