DON'T FIGHT TO BE RIGHT One way to express our love for others is to be a peacemaker. The Bible says that we are to live in peace with everybody. "Be of the same [agreeable] mind one with another; live in peace, and [then] the God of love [Who is the Source of affection, goodwill, love, and benevolence toward men] and the Author and Promoter of peace will be with you" (2 Cor. 13:11).
A person who is living in peace is one who has given up the fight to be right. Years ago I found it difficult to be this kind of person. I always had to have the last word, and I always had to be right.
Dave and I would fight over some of the most ridiculous things you can imagine. For example, we would watch a movie on television and fight over who the actors were. It seemed to me that Dave thought half the men on television were Henry Fonda, and it made me so angry I couldn't stand it.
We would go to church every Sunday, rush home and fight over the couch, and then watch movies and argue about who the actors were. One night while we were arguing, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "Joyce, if Dave lives his whole life and comes to heaven thinking that the person in the movie was Henry Fonda, it really doesn't matter."
Wow! What a revelation.
It's hard to believe I made such a big deal over such insignificant things for so many years! But usually it is the little issues in our relationships that cause the most problems.
The Bible says "the little foxes...spoil the vineyards [of our love]" (Song 2:15). We need to stop making a big deal out of little things. There are enough big concerns to deal with.
I thank God for the peace Dave and I have in our home and in our relationship now. Every once in a while a conflict will come up. When it does, we confront the issue in love and come to a resolution so we can go on in peace. As you and I commit our relationships to the Lord, He will give us the grace to learn to let go of the little things and experience more of the joy He died to give us.
SEEK TO BE A STUDENT OF OTHERS Once you and I begin to walk in love and give up the fight to be right, we can be more in tune with the needs of others. Learning to discern others' needs constituted a major breakthrough in my life. Like many people, I had a tendency to give others what I needed instead of what they needed.
A number of years ago, my husband invited me to play a game of golf with him. He was not playing well that day, and after he had hit a couple of bad shots, I put my hand on his back, patted him and said, "It'll be all right."
Dave didn't appreciate my expression of encouragement. He took my hand, moved it and said: "Don't do that. I don't like you doing that. I'll be fine."
I was offended by his response. I got out of the golf cart and stomped down the fairway thinking, Yeah, you don't need anything, Mr. "I've Got It All Together." You can't even take a little encouragement because you are too full of pride to admit that you're not doing well.
At this point in our relationship, Dave and I were trying to work through some things. One of the things I was working on was to stop feeling rejected by him. In fact, I was teaching a series on rejection at the time.
So instead of staying mad, I stopped and said to God: "I am not going around this mountain again. I believe You are in charge of my life, and if You allowed this to happen, then there is something You are trying to teach me. What is it?"
God spoke to my spirit and said, "If you were playing bad, you would want Dave to pat you on the back and encourage you. If he didn't, you would think he was cold and unloving. The problem is that you're trying to give Dave what you need, and he doesn't need that."
This comment opened my eyes. God showed me that the reason for many of the problems in our relationships is that we don't take the time to stop and study the other person. If we will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, He will show us what others need. Once He does, we need to freely give it to them.
The fact that we don't need a particular thing doesn't give us the license to withhold it from somebody else. Proverbs 3:27 says, "Withhold not good from those to whom it is due [its rightful owners], when it is in the power of your hand to do it." If we will slow down and seek to understand others instead of seeking to be understood, we will be able to give them what they need.