Our nation is politically charged in the midst of an election season, ramped terrorism, and internal conflict. Some are crying, “War!” Others cry out, “Peace!” I hear Christians crying both.
I must think long and hard about these words from God, that there is a time of war, and a time of peace (Ecclesiastes 3:3). What does this mean? Let’s not try to be poetic and make excuses out of our own discomfort; these are God’s words. Several times in Scripture God declared war against the enemies of God, instructing His people to take up arms. Yet we know that in this New Testament era, we have to think carefully before we cry for war because we join God in longing for every tribe, tongue, and nation to recognize that Jesus is Lord and be saved. War? We abhor the thought. And Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek. So which is it, a time of war or a time of peace?
The answer to the question belongs to God. When our hearts burn in anger, that’s definitely the time to sit down and be quiet; too many people talking in the public arena are speaking out of anger, and they’re fueling the crowd to want to start a war out of hatred and vengeance. And likewise, when our hearts are feeling weak, frightened, and tempted to make cowardly compromises, that is not the time to go to the negotiating table to discuss a truce.
God declares each season, and when He calls us to our season we must carry it out in righteousness. Christian brothers and sisters, let us have no hatred that leads to a war-mongering heart, yet let our desire for restoration and healing be rooted not in fear but in righteousness alone.
Yes, you should hate. You who love the Lord, hate evil (Psalm 97:10)! But there’s way too much hate in this world, especially toward human beings made in the image of God. I’m grateful to pass along these words of a great leader concerning love and hate.
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (from “Loving Your Enemies”)
(There is) a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
That tongue is impossible to control (James 3:8)! How is God guiding you to learn when to speak and when to be silent?
- Discretion. It’s knowing which words suit the situation, and how to honor the trust granted you by others who share private information that shouldn’t be repeated.
- Self control. When the sentence begins, “I’m sorry, but…”, or “I know I shouldn’t say this, but…”, or “Bless her heart…”, chances are we’re hinting we’re about to say something that shouldn’t be said. Why do we say these things? Because we’re angry, we’re gossipy, we’re prideful, or some other sin has grabbed hold of the reigns of our hearts and consequently our tongues.
- Courage and Truth. God’s people speak up for those who have no voice. We stand firm on our faith and we speak the words of Christ. We share the gospel. We affirm what God has said in His Word. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
(There is) a time to tear, and a time to sew (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
Anyone who has spent time with women in a third world country can understand this analogy from a unique point of view. Women who live in extreme poverty are working with little to no money for daily bread, much less for extra clothing. The wife and mother takes care of her family’s garments, knowing that her daughter’s one of two skirts or her son’s only pair of sandals could not be easily replaced. So when this mother’s dress gets a hole in it, she has to think carefully about what to do. She won’t throw it away. She’ll either take it apart and make something else out of it, or sew it back together.
Create something new, or maintain. How exciting, the twists and turns of the seasons of life!
I get in trouble with my husband all the time because I love to throw things away. The practice makes my endorphins throw a party. It’s getting rid of clutter, getting yucky stuff out of sight, that thrills me.
Sometimes I emotionally want to throw things away to get rid of the brain clutter and get those yucky feelings out of sight. There are things I don’t want to remember because they’re painful. But before I toss out the entire experience or failed relationship, I should ask God first if there’s anything in that wad of memories that I’m supposed to keep. That sends me picking through the emotional garbage, searching for anything and everything that God points out to me and says, “That has worth; keep it.”
(There is) a time to keep, and a time to throw away (Ecclesiastes 3:6).