In honor of Valentines Day & the beginning of Spring Training . . .
A few years ago, I read about a marital spat that has to be one of the most, if not the most, bizarre fights of all time. A husband and wife, who live in Mexico, literally tried to kill each other. In a scene reminiscent of the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie movie, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, these two began throwing knives, firing guns and ultimately hurling homemade bombs at each other until they blew up their home. The couple, from Oxkutzcab, Yucatan, evidently were willing to fight to the death. The wife suffered third-degree burns and had to be taken to the hospital. Her husband was arrested and taken to jail. Whatever happened to “for better or for worse”?
A few weeks later, I read of another bizarre fight. The headline is what caught my attention. It said, Man with prosthetic legs, deaf man brawl after meeting in bar. Apparently, the two met in a bar and began driving through several small towns and across the Indiana countryside until they came to the Porter County Airport. The man with two prosthetic legs got out and, with the aid of his walker, went around to the other side of the car, where he grabbed the deaf man and tried to pull him from the car. Authorities said the deaf man pushed the man with prosthetic legs to the ground, resulting in a head injury that required treatment by paramedics and resulted in a trip to a local hospital. Police wrote a note to the deaf man informing him he was being arrested for battery. Both wound up in the Porter County Jail. What was the cause of their conflict? The man with prosthetic legs was frustrated at the deaf man’s difficulty in communicating directions.
Family feuds and friends getting frustrated with one another are nothing new. Although you’ll have to admit, the folks mentioned above do take things to a whole new level. So what should we do when we find ourselves frustrated with someone, sense a conflict coming, feel the heat heading our way or anticipate an altercation approaching? Some like to hide their head in the sand in an attempt to ignore it rather than fix it. Others keep it all inside. Which is about as effective as attempting to hold a beach ball under water. You can do it for a while, but not forever. Some run. Others bow their back like a bulldog and get ready to bite or fight.
What we ought to do is focus on ourselves rather than fighting with others. The Bible says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1). We’re quick to fix everybody else, but slow to see our own faults and foibles, sins and idiosyncrasies. The person who’s always criticizing the boss or pointing out the problems of others or talking about others behind their back or complaining about not being appreciated or recognized or telling you how “things really ought to be done around here,” etc., may be frustrated with others, but the reality is, they have plenty to focus on and fix in their own life.
Jesus said, “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).
Truth is, the things that are really worth fighting for are not things you and I have to fight for very often. And the things we do fight about, with such ridiculous regularity, are rarely worth the time, energy and effort. In fact, many times it’s merely a matter of days before we can’t even remember what we fought about or why.
In most situations and in all kinds of environments, you and I can control the temperature in our surroundings just by controlling our tempers. It works in marriages and ministries, friendships and families, with Christians and churches, even neighborhoods and nations.
Just remember: You won’t miss a thing if you don’t take that swing.
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
“For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20).
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Today, more than 8,000 people call Crossroads their church home. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.