Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ignoring the serpent

Visit this post on the Internet Cafe

I wish I didn't relate so much to Eve. You know, the one who messed it up for the rest of us? I wish I could say I was different from her.

Genesis 3. Eve is hanging out in the garden one day. She's alone. Maybe she was okay with solitude for a little while, but, she's a female. And we females like to talk.

She's looking at that tree, the one God said not to eat. You know she wanted to discuss that. Adam is nowhere around, and the serpent seizes his moment. He slithers up, and makes some conversation. The bible doesn't say so, but I wouldn't be surprised if her complimented her hair first. (If she hadn't been naked, he might have told her her shoes were cute.)

Eve is probably happy to have someone to chat to about this very interesting and forbidden tree. She's a woman, and women are by nature, relational. Some of us seek out friendships with many, some with a few, but I have never met a woman who didn't long for a best friend. Eve is an easy target.

The serpent didn't try this trick with Adam - because if Adam was like my husband, he was not on this constant quest to connect to others that I am (hello, I blog.) No, Satan went for the woman. And they connected. Genesis 3:6 says that Eve was seeking wisdom, a noble pursuit. She was just looking for it in all the wrong places.

Well, we know what happened next. The serpent was not a good friend. He was giving her some advice, but not the kind she needed to hear. His counsel led her straight to destruction, and we are all still suffering because of her lack of discernment.

How often do we have an Eve moment?

When I am having an "issue", especially an issue with another female in my life, my initial response is to turn to my girlfriends for guidance and support.

The danger is that whenever we women get together to discuss a conflict, no matter what our levels of spiritual maturity, the conversation is very, very prone to go south. It is our sin nature to be vindictive. Throw some emotion into it, some past baggage on either side, and a dash of PMS, and the conversation can go from spiritual to worldly in no time flat.

This isn't to say that we should not seek the advice of godly women. I believe that good girlfriends and mentors are a gift from the Lord, and I have been blessed many times by their counsel. Often they will tell me wonderful, wise advice. But - not always. They are sinners just like me, after all.

How can I discern if their advice is godly, as opposed to worldly?

Scripture, scripture, scripture.
Any advice we receive must be in line with God's word. And, fortunately for us, God dispenses plenty of advice regarding conflict resolution.

Here is a scenario. You believe you have been wronged by a friend, or a family member. Feelings are hurt, egos are bruised. What to do?

The world says:
  • Vent. Let it all out. Tell your friends exactly how you have been wronged. Give a play by play of what she did.
Scripture says:
  • I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. Psalm 142:1-2
  • If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. James 1:26
The line between venting and gossiping is as thin as a hair, and crossing that line happens without even realizing it. It feels good to vent. It feels better to pray. I am learning to vent to God, instead of to my husband, my friends or my mother. And you know what I'm learning? God is an awesome listener.

The world says:
  • You don't deserve to be treated this way. You need to stand up for your rights. Confront her and tell her off.
Scripture says:
  • "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:3-5
  • It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. Proverbs 3:20
There are very specific rules for confronting another with their sin in Matthew 18. It must be done from a standpoint of love and humility from remembering our sins for which Christ died; with the goal of reconciliation, not with the intent to "stand up for your rights" and certainly not to tell them off.

The world says:
  • Be passive aggressive. Don't confront her outright, just "forget" to call her back or keep her informed. Make subtle little tacky comments, to her and about her. Harbor resentment.
Scripture says:
  • So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12
  • Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
The world says:
  • Ignore her. Give her the silent treatment.
Scripture says:
  • Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:17-18
The world says:
  • Get her back. Make her sorry she messed with you.
Scripture says:
  • Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21
  • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 3:2
The world says:
  • You are such a victim. Poor you. It's awful how you are being treated when you did nothing wrong.
Scripture says:
  • Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. I Timothy 1:15-16
  • Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
The world says:
  • What was done to you is just unforgivable.
Scripture says:
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
  • "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." Luke 17:3-4
  • Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

I'm not saying the godly way is easier.

The Eve in us wants to get down on our bellies and slither around the feet of the one who has hurt us, whispering insults and sinking our fangs into her ankles.

Trust me, I know.

But we are more than Eve. For we have the spirit of Christ in us, and Christ has overcome the world and all its so-called wisdom. And we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...