A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart– he always stirs up conflict. (Proverbs 6:12-14 NIV)
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)
There are several directions to go with this chapter. What struck me was the underlying theme of relational conflict. The chapter begins by describing the conflict that is created when a debt to debtor relationship is established between neighbors. A different sort of tension in the community is created by the person who can work and won’t work because he is lazy. His individual consequence is poverty while he robs the community of his contribution and obligates the community to provide for his physical needs.
The troublemaker has an even greater negative impact on the community. It seems there are people in every community who enjoy stirring things up. They are assisted by those in the community who are easily stirred up. Gossip and lies would quickly die if we didn’t secretly enjoy the distress of others. I feel safe in saying that we have all experienced the negative impact of the troublemaker. Sometimes we have been the troublemaker and other times we have been the victim of the troublemaker. Regardless, trust has been shattered and relationships damaged. Repair attempts often fail, but this is what we are called to do.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9 NIV)
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:18 NIV)
Peacemaking is challenging work. Assuming that in most cases all parties have done something to contribute to the conflict the peacemaker must attempt to get each party to work through confession, repentance, and forgiveness with the goal being reconciliation. The foundation of this process is trust in the peacemaker. As an offended and probably offending party, we must trust that the peacemaker has our best interest at heart. We cannot expect the peacemaker to protect us from further offense or hurt. It is common for the peacemaker to be hurt in the process of bringing two parties together.
Fortunately, we have a model peacemaker to look to understand the process and its costs. Jesus came to provide a way for us to be reconciled to God. Reconciliation and peace came through his death on the cross.
For more on this topic check out The Cure by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall.
For my grandchildren:
Follow Jesus and be a peacemaker rather than a peace breaker.