If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Exodus 30, John 9, Proverbs 6, Galatians 5. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Proverbs 6.
Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us seven things that the Lord finds detestable. I find myself nodding my head in agreement quite readily with the first six. “Haughty eyes” — signifying someone who is so overbearingly proud that it is written all over his or her face—are easy to dislike. So is someone who lies, or is violent to the innocent, or is constantly coming up with new scams, or who rushes to the next opportunity to sin, or who knowingly testifies falsely in order to cause trouble for someone else or benefit himself. It is not hard to find these things offensive.
But what of #7: “a person who stirs up conflict in the community”? On the surface, this one is easy to agree to as well; however, you and I are probably more likely to be involved in this than in any of the other sins. Who stirs up conflict in communities? People who like to argue, or who want to agitate for change, or who want to depose the current leader so that they can become the new leader, or who just insist on being difficult. The church is notorious for this kind of behavior. People who complain about the length of the pastor's sermons or about the new youth leader, or about the song selection on Sunday—these are people who stir up conflict. We’re seeing this in the political sphere right now, too. It isn’t sufficient to debate policy differences; our politicians have to “go negative” and demonize their opponents.
Conflict in any community is inevitable because we are sinners. Sinners are selfish and will sow seeds of discord or even pick a fight if it serves our selfish purposes. Christ, however, calls us and empowers us to live in love rather than in selfish conflict. In fact, our reading today in Galatians 5:13-16 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” One of the benefits and responsibilities of receiving God’s love in Christ is seeking to make peace instead of stirring up strife. Is there anyone in your life with whom you have conflict right now? Did your actions stir this conflict up? Or, did your response to something help escalate the conflict? What is one thing you can to do “serve one another humbly in love” (Gal 5:13c) in this situation? Now, go do that thing praying that the Lord will use you to make peace.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.