Two of my grandchildren, ages six and nine at the time, were really angry with each other. I don’t remember now what the issue was, but heated words were certainly flying back and forth. Finally I interrupted. “Carson, tell me one thing you like about Ryan—just one.” It took awhile before he could think of anything, but finally he admitted, “Well–he helps me rollerblade.”
“And, Ryan, how about you? Isn’t there one thing you like about Carson?” Honestly, I can’t remember now if Ryan came up with anything or not, but they did quit arguing. And I discovered something that day: it’s almost impossible to stay angry with someone when you’re thinking about even one thing you like about that person.
The apostle Paul must have known that when he wrote to the Colossians, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Col. 3:15).
Anger and thankfulness are almost mutually exclusive. You can’t be angry with someone and thankful for that person at the same time. Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule…and be thankful.” He’s saying, “Let the peace of Christ be the umpire in your disputes.” Bible scholar J. B. Lightfoot wrote: “Wherever there is a conflict…, the peace of Christ must step in and decide which is to prevail.”[i]
When we think of peace, we often think of something like a perfectly calm lake. But G. Campbell Morgan said that the Bible word for peace is “not a stillness in which there is no movement at all…. It is the ending of strife and conflict.”[ii] It’s that blessed relief that comes when the conflict is over.
That person that you’re angry with right now—isn’t there even one thing that you’re thankful for about that person? You may have to think very hard to come up with something. But if you do, your anger will begin to subside. Try it!
[i] J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House—reprinted complete and unabridged from the revised 1879 edition published by MacMillan and Company) 223.
[ii] G. Campbell Morgan, The Corinthian Letters of Paul (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1946) 15.
Are you thinking on positive thoughts?