Monday, March 12, 2012

Patience, Mercy, Forgiveness.5

"Make peace, even with you enemies. Constant striving will lead only to greater trouble: lawsuits, courtrooms, even prison, with no way of undoing the penalty except by completing your sentence."

--Jesus

"...a man had better make up his mind to be righteous, to be fair, to do what he can to pay what he owes, in any and all the relations of life—all the matters, in a word, wherein one man may demand of another, or complain that he has not received fair play. Arrange your matters with those who have anything against you, while you are yet together and things have not gone too far to be arranged; you will have to do it, and that under less easy circumstances than now. Putting off is of no use. You must. The thing has to be done; there are means of compelling you."

In all the conflicts of life they come to this: they are about relations with another human being.

Whether its teaching your own children to get along with their siblings or negotiating conflicts on the bus, classroom, workplace, playing field, or courtroom, life is a perpetual challenge to not only keep peace but to grow in unity, devotion and love for one another. I remember a young man on my bus, for example, attention starved that he appeared to be, couldn't grasp that his bullying was destructive to himself and other students. The message we sent to him got incrementally stronger: assigned seat, assigned seat directly behind the driver, suspension from riding, total loss of riding privileges.

Most of us avoid conflict, nay, dread conflict. Mark Twain observed: "The average man's a coward." We say we forgive, but no more, to the hostilities of even our closest friends in their worst moments. Our forgiveness usually extends no further than walking a large circular path around their space until the dust settles at a later time, rather than seizing the opportunity to inch our way closer to another's heart.
To the honest man,
To the man who would gladly be honest,
      Jesus' word is right, gracious, necessarily vital.
To the untrue,
      it is a terrible threat;
To him who is of the truth,
     it is sweet as most loving promise.
He who is of God's mind in things, rejoices to hear the word of the changeless Truth; the voice of the Right fills the heavens and the earth, and makes his soul glad; it is his salvation.
If God were not unyielding in His justice, there would be no anchor for the soul of the feeblest lover of right: 'thou art true, O Lord: one day I also shall be true!'
'Thou shalt render the right, cost you what it may,'
to those whose life is a falsehood it is a dread sound in their ears; but to those who love righteousness more than life, what but the last farthing would they not pay?
It is a joy profound as peace to know that God is determined upon such payment, is determined to have his children clean, clear, pure as very snow; is determined that not only shall they with his help make up for whatever wrong they have done, but at length be incapable, by eternal choice of good, under any temptation, of doing the thing that is not divine, the thing God would not do."
(quotes from George MacDonald, The Last Farthing, Unspoken Sermons II)