One of my coaches with the St. Louis Cardinals use to say, “Control what you CAN control.” That advice has served me well over the years. Right now, many of us are feeling like things are out of our hands. The Coronavirus has forced us into unwanted change and we have very little control over the situation. But there are still some things we can control in the midst of this circumstance.
For many people, a time of quarantine leads to a severe case of cabin-fever. This is when we need a book like Philippians the most because conflict and cabin-fever go together. So, let’s get more familiar with the happiest book in the Bible and see what wisdom we can gain from following the prescriptions in it.
Remember, Paul does not speak from his “High Horse” as if he does not understand what the church is going through. Paul was in a forced social distancing/quarantine situation in a Roman prison when he took time to write to the church at Philippi. He wanted them to know four essential practices of a Christian to reduce conflict in their lives. I’ve paraphrased by trying to make a couple of the points rhyme in order to help us remember, but you’ll get the point.
Paul writes about how humility leads to harmony and harmony leads to happiness in our relationships. Here are the four habits that can help you control conflict in your life.
- Never let pride be your guide. Pride is at the root of every sin. You and I have an “I” problem. Think about it. What is the middle letter in the word, pride? What’s the middle letter in, crime? Are you surprised that I is the middle letter in, sin? We live in an “I want what I want and I want it now” culture.
But Philippians 2:3 says not to do anything from selfish ambition or vain conceit. Selfish ambition is saying “it’s all about me.” Vain conceit is saying “I’m always right.”
- Be humble or you’ll stumble. Why should we be humble? Well, God makes more promises in the Bible to those who are humble than anything else (except to those who are generous). He promises peace, prosperity, honor, power, grace, and His presence among many other great things.
The Coronavirus has entered a culture of self-centeredness where, “You do you Boo … and I’ll do me …” in other words, you do your thing and I’ll do mine, but don’t tell me what I can or can’t do! Some people are saying they don’t care if they get the virus because they’ll recover. These are usually those who are of the younger generations because according to the data, younger people are not as susceptible to the extreme versions of the virus. But, as Philippians reminds us, humility means it’s not about you. We need to be considerate and help those who have a compromised immune system and are at the highest risk of dying from the virus. Although you may not get a severe case of it, you can give it to someone who could get a severe case of it and die. By thinking of others and not just our own wants and desires we give more honor to others than to ourselves. Always remember … humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s just thinking of yourself less.
- Learn the lost art of paying attention. We live in an Attention Deficit Disorder world. We don’t pay attention to people, we pay attention to screens! It’s easy to get distracted from the people and needs around us. We need to learn to listen and actually care about what others are interested in. What a great time to practice this when we’re forced to stay home! This is a the time to change the focus because it shouldn’t always be about me, me, me. My agenda. My career. My hobbies. My needs. Harmony comes from being interested and concerned about what others think is important. Philippians 2:4 says it like this, “Don’t look out for only your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” The most valuable gift you can give someone is your attention because your attention is your time. Some may say, “No money is more valuable!” But, that’s not true, because if I give you some money, I can always get more money, but when I give you my attention, I’m never getting that time back. When I pay attention to you, it says you matter, I care about you. So, who do you need to pay attention to today?
- WWJD? It sounds cliche, but it’s true! Ask yourself, What Would
Jesus Do?, (Philippians 2:5). No matter what situation you find yourself in, you can bet Jesus would respond with humility. Our attitude should be the same as Jesus. If we want to raise harmony in our lives, and reduce conflict, we need to ask ourselves how would Jesus act in this situation, with this person, at this time?
During this time of confinement, rest assured that Jesus wants to be your guide, He wants to keep you from stumbling, and He wants to show you the value of learning how to give your attention. In every relationship, let’s strive to be of the same mind, love, spirit, and purpose as Jesus Christ.
To continue on this topic of humility, harmony, and happiness, join us for our daily devotional Today Matters as we discuss three things that characterize “what Jesus would do.”