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Friday: Further Study: Dealing With Fights — 21 Comments

  1. There was a time when “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me," meant something. No, it never meant words are meaningless or lack power or should be lightly regarded. Rather it was a way of saying, “I will not be easily offended, broken or brought down by hateful or hurtful words meant to demoralize me. I will take the higher road.”

    In a generation which is trained to be very sensitive and thin-skinned and to respond in kind to every perceived slight, whether or not intended, the counsel to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) often falls on deaf ears. Among believers there are some who will not take an insult like a good soldier (2 timothy 2:3, 4) and return a soft answer like a Lamb (Proverbs 15:1).

    Many are easily affected (self) and allow the unkind words of others to embitter them or bring out the worst response. The human nature is quick to deflect attention from its own unchrist-likeness by pointing to the fault of others. Yet the evil of others does not cancel the reaction sin of the offended one. A part of growing up in Christ is developing a thick skin and a soft heart; for there will always be attacks from the enemy through agents outside and within the church.

    Jesus gave the counsel for dealing with the offensive. He said bless and pray for them, not prey on them (Luke 6:28)

  2. Something I have learned this week is that sometimes the LORD allows us to experience "fights" of different kinds to test us, like the Children of Israel, Job, Abraham and David. Sometimes it is part of the refining process or preparing us for the time of trouble. I asked Him to forgive me for the sins I have committed and trusted Him to record in Heaven the truth about the things of which I have been unfairly accused. What the LORD thinks of me is what counts, not others.

    Pro 17:3 The refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold, but Jehovah tries the hearts.
    Psa 66:10 For You have proved us, O God; You have tested us, as silver is refined.
    Deu 8:16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not know, so that He might humble you and so that He might prove you, to do you good in your latter end,

    • Shirley and Hugh,
      You primarily use the perspective of the one who is being maligned. No objection. Shirley, you came from the perspective of suffering and being persecuted as a test, the refiners fire. I like your prayer of recognition that every spoken word, along with motive(s) are audio and videotaped "permanent" records that are completely just, fair, equitable.
      I think there is some value, Hugh, to your perspective of the thick skin but soft heart. I wish you had developed that further since the soft heart cannot be as discerning when the toughening up defensive posture denies the hurt.

      I get the impression that Jesus did not toughen up. He remained sensitive to pain received by Himself and by others, for if he closed down His pain, He in process invariably will become less sensitive to the suffering of others. Isa 53 offers that He received the suffering, rejection, revile in full face, the "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief", and we hid our faces from Him because we have a natural instinct to initial and sometimes chronic denial.

      What Jesus offered that is different is His chosen response, intellectual wise and discerning, spiritual empowering for self, but giving an opportunity for the other person to feel the power of His presence: "He reviled not again"; He "turned the other cheek"; He died in the other person's place; "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". EGW says in Educ. Chapter 9 that He was "faithful" in rebuke, whether heaping coals of fire on the person's head, giving a scathing "you generation of vipers", or as He told the High Priest "I have many things to judge you for".

      Affirmation for bearing up under suffering; and for dealing with the problem internally; yet we do not forget the necessity of the faithful "tear in His voice" response for the salvation of the other person. Our response is the possibility of choice of the accuser, and will be their passed up opportunity in the day of judgment. Just like Jesus Christ giving to a brilliant atheistic scientist a ridiculously marvelous revelation, to be his basis of decision making for the judgment, so my response becomes the accuser's basis for judgment in Heaven. Jesus showed us how. We have to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us in the spirit. I don't need the wall. I need a clear pathway from Heaven to earth and earth to Heaven.

      Hugh, you ended with "bless them". That is it. God bless you both on a journey that we all travel and know quite well.

  3. Discussion question 3:
    What are some ways we can lie without ever using words?

    Throughout this week as I studied this lesson, I thought to myself that there are times I don't want to say the truth to avoid hurting / alarming / giving unnecessary info. However, some instances I recalled appeared to have painted a whole different scenario.

    For instance, in trying to get a surprise birthday cake for a spouse's birthday from a lady friend who sells, you tell yo spouse wen they ask where u went, that u just went to check on "stuff" one lady friend is selling.

    Wen u collect and deliver the cake to yo spouse they are pleasantly surprised but they tell u they were so sure it was ladies' clothes / things on sale.

    So in avoiding the truth u create "an appearance" of a totally different case.

    Is this a lie? Is this wat is meant by lying without saying it? Shud I rather say, "I will tell u at a later stage" or no surprises at all?

    • Nzooma,
      It is difficult to plan a surprise without misleading the loved one. That is a challenging one. So, are you saying that we should never plan a surprise party or a surprise gift if we must misrepresent the truth to do so?

      • Surprise birthday planning is very exciting and provides you with an opportunity to show God's love in action. I like the idea of telling the person that you will reveal the details of your actions at a later date. Lying is never the right response. Keep God in everything that you do.

    • I think that we need to be careful that we do not take the fun out of life. The commandment says: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Ex 20: 16.

      There is a very big difference about telling lies that hurt someone, and hiding the fact that you are planning a surprise.

      The commandment is essentially about saying things that are false to or about other people to either hurt them, or to gain an advantage over them.

      Here is an example of when my wife and I were a little sparse with the truth. When my Mother-in-law turned 80 my wife and I flew 1000km to be with her to celebrate the occasion. She rang us while we were at the airport near her place. She was under the impression that we were at home eating our evening meal and we did nothing to enlighten her that we were only about 15 minutes away. Imagine her surprise when we walked in to her home and wished her a happy birthday. The surprise was complete and she still talks about it nearly 8 years later.

      By the way, don't do that if your Mother-in-law is prone to heart attacks!

      • I hear u Maurice. I am the object in that illustration and after reflecting I thot to hear wat others think. Thanks

      • Maurice, I think we can take what you say a bit further. There are times when the truth does more damage than if we didn't expose it. To me a very good case in point is that Jesus didn't tell the disciples when His Second Advent was going to happen (Mat 24:3). Now at that time He probably didn't honestly know exactly when but He most assuredly knew it wasn't going to be in just a few years. I am positively sure that understood the 2300 day prophesy of Dan 8:13-14 that brought the cleansing of the sanctuary to 1844. But then what would have happened if He did tell them?

        Another case is in evangelism. There is a lot of truth that the Christian needs to know but there is such a thing as priority and there are things that are more important than others. People need to understand the basics before we unload on them the entire "truth."

        Have you told your spouse all your past sins and shady experiences? Maybe you shouldn't!!

        So there are times when keeping things to ourselves is the way to go for the sake of love and peace and yes, maybe even for a surprise.

      • Maurice,
        Is what you describe the extent/coverage of the ninth commandment, or would it be more the letter of the law?

        Is feeling good a reliable test?

        Not sure there is any counsel in scripture about being "careful that we do not take the fun out of life." On the other hand there is a lot about being careful not to break the commandments.

        Would you say Abraham was treated unfairly for factually stating that Sarah was his sister (Genesis 12:11-13; Genesis 20:2)? Fun was not even on his mind. His concern was life versus death.

        Would you disagree with the following?

        "The ninth commandment requires of us an inviolable regard for exact truth in every declaration by which the character of our fellow men may be affected. The tongue, which is kept so little under the control of the human agent, is to be bridled by strong conscientious principles, by the law of love toward God and man.81Letter 15, 1895.

        False-speaking in any matter, every attempt or purpose to deceive our neighbor, is here included. An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, as falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint or insinuation calculated to convey an erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. This precept forbids every effort to injure our neighbor’s reputation by misrepresentation or evil surmising, by slander or tale-bearing. Even the intentional suppression of truth, by which injury may result to others, is a violation of the ninth commandment.82Patriarchs and Prophets, 309.

        He [Jesus] teaches that the exact truth should be the law of speech. “Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay.” ... These words condemn all those meaningless phrases and expletives that border on profanity. They condemn the deceptive compliments, the evasion of truth, the flattering phrases, the exaggerations, the misrepresentations in trade, that are current in society and in the business world. They teach that no one who tries to appear what he is not, or whose words do not convey the real sentiment of his heart, can be called truthful...." - (Sons and Daughters of God p. 64)

        • No Hugh, my answer is not meant to be the extet/coverage of the ninth commandment. This commandment is about deception with the intent of bearing false witness. Your SOP quotes underline that principle.

          That is very different to withholding information from someone so that you can give them a nice surprise.

          And no, feeling good is not a reliable test, but there are some things that we should feel good about. I like giving my wife surprises because she likes surprises. (I have to admit that I am not all that fond of them myself, but people who know me know that.) It makes her feel good and I am very happy for her. It is part of married life. It is not a sin to feel happy and make others happy.

  4. Betty and Maurice, may be based on that illustration, that act and/surprises are ok. But wat abt in principle? For instance, acts that we may never get opportunity to put in right perspective (like the birthday where in the end the recipient knows and appreciates it's a surprise)? Wud that be lying by omission or its ok, necessitated by circumstances?

    • Nzooma,
      The first thing to do with a difficult question is to pray, for wisdom and eye salve. The Holy Spirit will provide guidance.

      As well bear in mind the faithful are principle driven, not fun driven. We first determine the moral principles and have fun activities conform or tailored to suit.

      Some things which formerly seemed okay may no longer seem so as we grow (Proverbs 14:12). In seeking to please our Maker it is better to give up some fun activity and later find out we did not have to than to stubbornly resist the impress of the Holy Spirit and align with the majority opinion, only to be deceived by the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).

      Lastly bear in mind one compromise makes the next step easier. Someone on a religious radio station said this week that a deacon told him, "a good lie is better than a bad truth." This is a logical conclusion when we begin to justify small deceptions for fun or 'good' reasons.

      Something from EGW below:

      “A glance, a word, even an intonation of the voice, may be vital with falsehood. Even facts may be so stated as to convey a false impression. And “whatsoever is more than” truth, “is of the evil one.”
      Everything that Christians do should be as transparent as the sunlight. Truth is of God; deception, in every one of its myriad forms, is of Satan; and whoever in any way departs from the straight line of truth is betraying himself into the power of the wicked one.” (Thoughts From The Mount of Blessing p. 68)

      • We should be careful not go to extremes in applying scripture and SOP. While the nineth commandment and the word of God clearly prohibits deception, and while our actions and non verbal communication may aid and abet that outcome, let's not draw the conclusion that withholding information as in the case of facilitating a birthday surprise is invariably deceptive.

        In some cases it may be prudent to withhold information, as in cases where Jesus admonished those who were healed not to disclosed the source. We see this in Luke 5:14. Presumably, the reason for this warning was to avoid exciting the prejudice of the priest and leaders and thus jeopardizing His ministry. In some instances his "cover" was blown, which resulted in him having to leave the area.

        Not disclosing the intention of our actions should not be automatically construed as a deception. We should be guided by principle (not merely the letter of the law) in evaluating our actions. Pulling off a birthday surprise should be a delightful experience for everyone involved. If information is withheld to facillitte this gesture, this would not necessarily deemed misleading.

        If this were the case then we would have a challenge with God's instruction to Samuel and the events that played out in 1 Sam 16:1-5. God advised Samuel on the steps to take to avoid disclosure of the purpose of his trip Jesse's home.

        We may also have a challenge with the story of the Jesus' first miracle at the wedding feast. The Master of Ceremonies was left with the impression that the groom deliberately left the best wine for last, and was commended accordingly. Of course, the servants made him none the wiser while Jesus was still present.

        Our God is a God of truth, principle, order, and might I dare say a God of wholesome fun.

        While we should be careful not to blatantly or implicitly mislead let's not characterize efforts to guard the element of surprise in a goodwill gesture as deceptive even if information is withheld.

        In every case sincere prayer and solicitation of the Holy Spirits guidance is needed.

        • Chris, I generally agree with you and with many comments others have made along the same line but I wouldn't take this thing too far in either direction. Jesus expanded what it meant to commit adultery and to kill in the Sermon on the Mount. By implication we can also do the same to the rest of the commandments.

          What I think we need to do is to see the principles involved in the Ten Commandments and with wisdom from God to apply them in our lives. For instance God commands us:

          You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them (Exod. 20:4-5 NKJV).

          The last part of that command should tell us what the commandment is about. Some have taken this to extremes to mean that we can't make any likeness of anything but that is obviously not what God meant because He instructed the Israelites to make statues and tapestry of angels and other living things in the sanctuary and since He doesn't contradict Himself we need to correct our understanding of the commandment concerning idols. Incidentally, we can create an idol that has no physical form but are concepts such as money, fame, cherished ideas, etc. To me then extremes in either direction is not good - we need to be in the center.

    • Nzooma,
      I believe that the two posts by Hugh, quoting EGW, are incredible reminders that we be credible, before God.
      To address your experience directly, your response was misleading. I respect your heart's desire to please God by searching your heart in this matter. I think that is what the Holy Spirit expects of us. Misleading can run us into bad situations at times.

      When a surprise is planned, we have to plan carefully, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how we inform both primary and other relevant persons. I think your experience has already sharpened that concern, so I think you will be quite ready the next time. Maurice's example did not fit your scenario, which reminds us that there will be multiple kinds of situations, and therefore it calls for caution regarding misrepresentations, as in your case, or possible danger that Maurice alluded to.

      In your situation, it also raises the question of negotiating with persons of integrity, as for example who you choose to bake the cake. Its always better to have persons we have good relationships with, and in contact with often, so there is hardly a need for question or explanation.

    • Thanks for all insightful and bible/SoP based contributions concerning surprises and/or deception thru suppression of truth. I like also the guidance to pray as the first thing in all circumstances.

      One thing is true that God the Holy Spirit does not leave us alone. He's there as our counsellor John 14:26 who guides us into all truth John 16:13 and also convicts us of sin John 16:8.

      May we each, prayerfully take Him thus, personally in our daily walk with Him whatever the day to day nitty gritties of our lives. God bless us all.

  5. Question #3, "What are some ways we can lie without ever using words?"

    We can keep quiet when we need to say something. We can also express a half truth by giving a one sided report when we know the other side as well. Often times this is done in sales when some unfavorable thing is conveniently left out of a sales pitch (the almost unreadable fine print). It is basically the same as having, "honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin" (Lev. 19:36 NKJV; see also Prov 11:1; Amos 8:5). This is also a big problem in statistics and in scientific reports where things can be bent to favor a particular opinion.

    As Adventists we also get trapped in this when seeking employment. We will often demand our Sabbaths off but sometimes we will "conveniently" leave that out of the employment interview and then enforce it through law after we are on the job. In my opinion such things are deceitful and in principle is a violation of the ninth commandment to say nothing of the bad witness we give to those outside the church.

  6. Proverbs refers to "fools" l am so surprised at how l fit the description and noticed l do all the things fools are said to do. I concluded that sinners as we are, we probably are all fools. But can we walk with God so long and still be "fools"


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