But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. [James 3:17 (TLB)]
We were having lunch at a local sports bar filled with televisions airing football, soccer, BMX, skiing, and hockey all at the same time. I find the restaurant’s many glaring screens disconcerting and were it not for the gyro my husband claims is the best one in town, we wouldn’t have been there. While sitting across from him, I looked up and saw two fighters viciously pounding one another in an MMA bout. Evoking images of Roman gladiators in battle and combining combat techniques from boxing, wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu, and the back alley, this sport seems to allow just about everything short of eye gouging and biting! With neither fighter wanting to be the loser, no matter how battered or bloody, they continue until someone is knocked out, a fighter submits, or the referee stops it because of severe injury.
Unfortunately, most fights aren’t limited to a cage or boxing ring and, while they may be less violent, they are no less damaging. Rather than punching, twisting arms, kicking, or choking our opponent, we use our words, voices, and even social media in an attempt to pummel him or her into submission! With neither party willing to submit, both are determined to keep going until the other person yields to their viewpoint or simply surrenders. Instead of conceding that we might learn something from those with whom we disagree, our sole goal is to convince them of the correctness of our way of thinking and the idiocy of theirs. Wanting to win the bout, we’re unwilling to hear one another or admit that our opposition could have a valid viewpoint. It rarely occurs to us that our differences are something to be respected or that there’s a possibility (however remote) we actually could be wrong.
Rarely, in a disagreement, do we even consider the option of yielding to the other person. Yet, if both people expect the other person to concede and are unwilling to make any concessions themselves, how can our disagreements ever be resolved? Unlike an MMA match, we don’t have a referee to stop the fight, judges to decide the victor, or even a corner man who will “throw in the towel” to stop the bout! Sadly, what often begins as a difference of opinion ends up becoming an argument of huge proportions. At least there’s a time limit for an MMA match; there’s none for arguments and I’ve known some people who have remained in fight mode for decades.
I’ve never been in an MMA bout but I do remember being in a tug-of-war and, from my experience, neither side ever really wins and victory comes at a cost. One side may end up with bragging rights but both sides end up with rope burns, sore muscles, bruises, and muddy clothing! The easiest way to end a tug of war is to drop the rope and the easiest way to end an argument is to stop arguing!
The wisdom from above doesn’t escalate conflicts or contribute to discord. It respects, listens, and knows how to get out of “no-win” situations. God’s wisdom doesn’t let pride take over when peace should reign. It is willing to step back and let the other side “win,” knowing that it hasn’t lost a thing. Wisdom is willing to negotiate and, if necessary, to concede. True wisdom remembers that nobody wins if someone ends up feeling humiliated, besmirched, or defeated.
A Christian has no right being in a fight unless it’s a spiritual fight. [Charles Stanley]