Lord, grant that I may seek more to understand than to be understood. (St Francis of Assisi)
How many of us can truthfully say that when we are in conflict with our spouse, we seek more to understand them “than to be understood?”
Seek to Understand
I admit that too many times I want my husband to understand my viewpoint than I want to understand his. How I wish it weren’t true, but it is. But with God’s help, I’m changing. I know it’s important to do so.
I also know it’s important to embrace the truth in the Bible where God says:
• “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.“ (Proverbs 18:2)
• “Let the wise listen and add to their learning. And let the discerning get guidance.“ (Proverbs 1:5)
• “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)
• “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge. The ears of the wise seek it out.“ (Proverbs 18:15)
• “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.“ (James 1:19-20)
But when I’m upset with my husband I seek more towards wanting to be understood, rather than to understand. Do you find yourself caught up in this same situation at times?
Holding the Right Attitude
As author, Josh McDowell, says about the above prayer of Francis of Assisi, “Can you imagine what would happen in our relationships if we all held this attitude?
Most conflicts would quickly dissolve. This is because most are the result of each person holding to a different assumption.” He goes on to say:
“If you want to handle your conflicts in a biblical way you must remember this question: What does God want to teach me in this conflict? Whatever it is, I can learn from it.”
That is great advice. It’s one we need to remember. Below is some additional advice for those who seek to understand. These insights come from the book, The Secret of Loving written by Josh McDowell. Josh refers to it as a “Winning Formula.”
The Winning Formula
“Let me show you a fabulous four-point outline for resolving conflict found in the first five verses of chapter 7 of Matthew:
“Verses 1 and 2 say, ‘Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged. And by your standard or measure, it will be measured to you.‘ This tells us to BE HUMBLE.
“Verse 3 follows, ‘And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?‘ Here we are clearly told to BE HONEST. I don’t think I have ever been involved in a conflict where there wasn’t a log in my own eye. [How about you?]
“Then, in verse 4 we read, ‘Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?‘ The lesson here is INTEGRITY.
“And finally, in verse 5 we are commanded to deal with conflict IN LOVE: ‘You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye. And then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.‘
“Jesus calls us to be humble, to be honest, to exercise integrity, and to demonstrate love.
Seek to Learn
“Here’s the danger. You can get wrapped up so easily to seek revenge and in wanting to get even in a conflict that you miss what God wants you to learn in the situation. The focus should be on finding out what GOD is saying to YOU.
“This requires a willingness to admit that you are not perfect. Your prayer and mine ought to be, ‘Lord, give me the strength to admit my shortcomings.’ Admitting is not a sign of weakness. Rather it takes courage to admit that you are wrong. As you acknowledge a weakness in your own life, you immediately become more able to accept a weakness in someone else’s life.
“A willingness to be corrected is another requirement if you are to learn God’s lesson for you. We can easily be more blind to our own faults than someone else’s.
“A proper attitude and willingness to change are also vital. In every situation you should have the desire to come out a better person, a better servant, and a better friend. WITH THESE ATTITUDES YOU WILL SET THE HOLY SPIRIT FREE TO DO HIS WORK.”
And to that we say, “AMEN!”
Seek to Please God
We’re told in the Bible:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.“ (Ephesians 4:30-32)
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
We pray that all of us will learn what God is trying to teach us and that we will “set the Holy Spirit free” in our lives to “do His work” in and through us!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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