Thursday, March 4, 2010

Don’t be a PORCUPINE


James 3:18 (TM) You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

James 3:18 (NIV) Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.


Have you ever known anyone who claimed to be wise but who acted foolishly? True wisdom can be measured by a person's character. Just as you can identify a tree by the type of fruit it produces, you can evaluate your wisdom by the way you act. Foolishness leads to disorder, but wisdom leads to peace and goodness. Are you tempted to escalate the conflict, pass on the gossip, or fan the fire of discord? Careful, winsome speech and wise, loving words are the seeds of peace. God loves peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).


Unlike creatures who travel in packs, porcupines travel solo. When they encounter other animals they respond by withdrawing, or using their quills to attack. Once their deadly quills become embedded the wounds fester, causing suffering, even death. Now porcupines don't necessarily want to be alone, they just don't know how to get close without hurting others or themselves.

Sound familiar? If so it's not surprising, because as human beings we employ attack and withdrawal strategies every day. We each have our own set of quills; things like: gossip, anger, pride, competitiveness, insensitivity, greed and control, to name just a few. By aiming them at others, we damage relationships, hurt people and end up lonely. Now, while it's not always easy, porcupines want to be able to get along together if only to ensure future generations. Their only other option is extinction. The same goes for us too!

Dr Robert Oppenheimer, the noted physicist who masterminded the first atomic bomb, was asked by a Congressional committee if there was any defence against it. Addressing a hushed audience, Oppenheimer replied, "Yes. Peace!" Now think, if peace can diffuse an atomic bomb, what can it do in the lives of the people you come in contact with? The Bible says, "Peacemakers… plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness" (James 3:18). All around you are frightened, despairing, lonely people, desperately needing 'a word of peace'. Do you have one?

If you want to experience your own miracle today, try planting a seed of encouragement in the heart of somebody who's ready to throw in the towel. Speak a word of peace to that person whose life is in turmoil because of family problems, health issues or financial hardship. Anytime you 'plant seeds of peace', you schedule a harvest of hope, love and joy in the life of that person - and your own life too!

Paul writes: "Live in harmony with each other. Don't try to act important … enjoy the company of ordinary people" (Romans 12:16). It matters to God how you get along with your family, your neighbours and your co-workers. The Bible says: "Give more honour to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). And James writes: "Do the hard work of getting along." Come on, you've got to work at it! Pull in your quills today and ask God to help you build loving relationships with the other porcupines that share your space!


"Lord, I realize that I can act like a porcupine at times. Please help me today to be aware when my "quills" are out and keeping me from getting close to anyone. I want to be clothed in kindness and humility. I want to be a peace maker. To do this, I need your help. In Jesus' name, amen!"