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When sparks fly
- Jacob Ninan
The Bible calls people 'fools' who get angry and quarrel easily (Pr.12:16;14:17;29:11). It says that keeping away from strife is an honour for man (Pr.20:3). Our struggle, generally, is to be able to control our temper and to avoid quarrels. But sometimes we also do the opposite. Thinking that we are avoiding a quarrel we sometimes miss making our stand clear or bearing a Christian witness.
Wisdom is to know when to speak out and when to keep silent (Ec.3:7). It is folly to always quarrel, and also to keep quiet when we need to speak out. Let us look at the second aspect today.
We are all so different from one another as people, with different opinions, understanding, upbringing, abilities, temperaments, etc. As a result, inter-personal relationships give us some of the toughest challenges in life. But on the positive side, it is interactions with different types of people that enrich our experience and enjoyment of life. They enable us to see things from different perspectives, and that broadens our outlook. We are helped to see where we have been narrow minded, prejudiced or blind to reality. That is why the Bible says that iron sharpens iron (Pr.27:17).
When iron sharpens iron, a lot of heat gets generated and sparks may fly! But that is a passing phase! Ultimately the pieces of iron get the proper shapes that add to their value. So it is with us.
If we are scared of the heat or sparks, we will choose to lie down quietly in our own places and avoid interacting with the others in ways that may cause sparks. This causes us to miss the education that we could have received from others with different views, and we also miss out on the opportunity to contribute something for the others' good. Many married couples follow this approach and think that they are bearing with their spouses, instead of expressing different views and coming to a mutual understanding of life. Many people think they are 'pursuing peace' with the others and let hurts and wounds fester deep inside.
Perhaps we Christians keep our mouth shut when people are discussing religion or philosophy thinking that we don't want to cause an uproar by claiming that Jesus is the only way. Of course there are times when the wise thing is to keep quiet because there is no point raising such subjects in hostile situations (Mt.7:6). But think of the other times when we can put in a word for Christ.
If we manage things wisely, heat may come and sparks may fly for the moment. But after things settle down we would have left some lasting impression on the others or gained the final victory. Think of how 'fearless' Jesus was when He dealt with the Pharisees and religious leaders who were opposing Him. Many sparks came out, and even big fires got started. He was not personally ruffled by them, He never got angry because someone did something to Him, and He never lost control even when He was angry with someone who was doing wrong (and it was going to hurt them).