Fight Cleanly

Fight cleanly and honor God in conflict.

No two people are alike. God created each of us different — with unique preferences, desires, values, and dreams. When we don’t know how to negotiate these differences with others, we can feel threatened and respond in immature ways, especially when under stress. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to navigate our differences and resolve conflict in God-honoring ways. When we Fight Cleanly, we use an emotionally healthy relationship tool designed to help us resolve conflicts as mature Christ followers.

To implement this skill, however, requires ongoing renewal and transformation, something the Daily Office helps us to do by routinely placing ourselves in God’s presence. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we receive the courage to quit blaming others and take responsibility to ask for what we want or need. When we linger in God’s presence, he softens us to become more generous. And most importantly, we receive God’s love in such a way that we are able to give it away to those around us.

MORNING/MIDDAY PRAYER

Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:34-36

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “a man against his father,a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

Devotional

Perhaps one of the most misapplied teachings in the New Testament is Jesus’ proclamation:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. — Matthew 5:9

Too many people think that what Jesus calls us to in this verse is a kind of blanket passivity and false appeasement to ensure that nobody gets upset.

We forget that conflict and trouble were near constants in the life and mission of Jesus. He disrupted the false peace that everyone around Him wanted, including His disciples, the crowds, the religious leaders, the Romans, those buying and selling in the temple — even His own family.

Jesus shows us that healthy Christians do not avoid legitimate conflict.

When we avoid conflict and appease people out of fear, we are false peacemakers. Jesus shows us that true peace will never come by trying to pretend that what’s wrong is right.

True peacemakers love God, others, and themselves enough to disrupt false peace when necessary.

Nonetheless, unresolved conflicts remain one of the greatest tensions in Christians’ lives today. We don’t know what to do with these difficult issues and so we ignore them, hoping against hope they will somehow go away. They don’t. And we all learn, sooner or later, that we can’t build Christ’s kingdom on false peace and pretense. Only the truth will do.1

Question to Consider

In what kind of situations, or with whom, are you routinely tempted to avoid conflict and settle for a false peace?

Prayer

Lord, forgive me for pretending that things are okay when they’re not. I often ignore difficult issues and problems because I want to avoid conflict and messiness. Help me, I pray, to follow the way of Jesus, to be a true peacemaker in all my relationships, so that the kingdom of God might be as evident in my life as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

MIDDAY/EVENING PRAYER

Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 58:9-11

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness,and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always;he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Devotional

During Isaiah’s time (about 700 BC), God’s people were devout — they prayed, fasted, and memorized Scripture. However, they also had a problem with “the pointing finger and malicious talk.” Their relationships were marked by impatience, a judgmental spirit, and irritation. Perhaps their disconnected spirituality sounded like this: I can’t stand you, but at least I prayed and read Scripture this morning! They failed to see that it is impossible to think about the spiritual life apart from loving our neighbors.

Jesus’ teaching on love is radical. He goes so far as to say that the degree to which we love our “enemies” — those who hurt us, irritate us, drive us crazy — is the true indicator of our spiritual maturity. Another way to think of this is that our enemies are our “saint-makers,” the means God uses to deeply and powerfully transform us. In this sense, enemies are not interruptions or obstacles but gifts-in-disguise from God.

Jesus repeatedly taught that loving God and loving others are inseparable.

Why? He knew how easy it is to compartmentalize our thoughts and beliefs from our actions, that we could pray and even practice spiritual disciplines and still fail to love the people with whom we live.

Question to Consider

If it’s true that our enemies can be gifts-in-disguise from God, who in your life might be a “saint-maker”? In what way(s) might God be using this person to transform you?

Prayer

Lord, fill me with Your love today for my saint­maker, _________________. Help me to see this person not as an enemy but as a gift­in­disguise, the means by which You are helping me to become more like Jesus. I open the door of my heart for You and ask that You would help me to see my saint­maker through Your eyes, and to love them as You do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

  1. For a fuller treatment of true peacemaking, see Scazzero, 
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, 184–86.

Excerpted with permission from Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day-by-Day by Peter Scazzero, copyright Peter Scazzero.

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Your Turn

Jesus is our example in times of conflict. He taught us that healthy Christians do not avoid legitimate conflict. At the same time, what is going on in our hearts matters deeply to God. He uses conflict and person causing it (the saint-maker) to change us from the inside out. Come share your thoughts on healthy and godly conflict on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day by Day

Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day by Day
Peter Scazzero
Normal Price: $12.99
FaithGateway Price: $7.79
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Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
Peter Scazzero
FaithGateway Price: $22.99
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Peter Scazzero

Peter Scazzero is the founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York City, a large, multiracial church with more than seventy-three countries represented. After serving as senior pastor for twenty-six years, Pete now serves as a teaching pastor/pastor at large. He is the author of two best-selling books—The Emotionally Healthy Church and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. He is also the author of The EHS Course and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day. Pete and his wife, Geri, are the founders of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, a groundbreaking ministry that equips churches in a deep, beneath-the-surface spiritual formation paradigm that integrates emotional health and contemplative spirituality. They have four lovely daughters. For more information, visit emotionallyhealthy.org, or connect with Pete on Twitter @petescazzero.

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