Not many people look forward to conflict. Most of us tend to avoid it for it is uncomfortable and though it may yield something beneficial to go through it, we tend to ignore, evade, sidestep, or elude conflict. Yet truthfully conflict is a natural reality and we cannot grow without it. Proverbs in the Bible put it this way…
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
The image here is of two knives being scraped across each other’s blade at just the right angle to create friction. That resistance/conflict causes the blades to be sharpened. This is how my Granddad used to sharpen his knives and sometimes you could even see a few sparks fly. Conflict does sharpen us as we learn of our rough spots and work them out. It’s not pleasant, but we are better for it.
Now, this is true relationally, but also true as we look inward and deal with some of the conflicts we face within ourselves. This is where we experience the risky worth of introspection, for the truth is, as we seek to grow in faith with God, we all struggle with issues (areas of sin and lack of trust in God), idols (things we place as higher affections over Jesus), and the individualism of wanting our way over God’s, where we pursue a type of moralism that seeks to control God and faith by way of thinking our good actions can influence or manipulate God (I know this last statement will take a bit to soak in, so read it over a few times). The way we deal with all this is to get a bit introspective and go into the scary world of our own thoughts and feelings. Where we pray like King David…
Psalm 139:23-24 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thought! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Now the great thing about taking a look inwards is the Holy Spirit is there helping us
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
We have the best possible counselor walking us through our ‘stuff’ sharping us, helping us grow, and guiding us to be the people God created us to be.
Ephesians 3:16 that according to the riches of His (God’s) glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being,
That power of sharpening us comes as we take the risk of affording time to ask God to search us and reveal why we are so frustrated with that family member, or with that co-worker, or in that circumstance, and let the Holy Spirit take us on a process to deal with it. Too much we get stuck in life because these issues, idols, and push for individualism hold us back. They hold us back from the abundant life Jesus desires for us (John 10:10) and the mission God has called us to (Matthew 22:35-40, Matthew 28:19-20, John 13:34-35).
So, why is it you struggle with those in authority over you? Why do you get so hurt when people don’t meet your expectations? Why do you avoid introspection? Why do you get angry so fast? Why are you so frustrated? What’s at the core of your feelings? What needs are you trying to fill that really only Jesus can? …Hmm… I think we are getting a bit introspective. Why not pick up from here and take some time this weekend and go inward, taking the risky worth of introspection.
Seeking the risky worth of introspection with you,
PS These times of introspection are times of prayer, and this summer we are going through a teaching series entitled, “Wrestling with God in Prayer: Intense Internal Interactions with God’s Holy Spirit about Life.” We would love for you to either join us or listen on line. Here is our web site to help you connect: www.cypresschurch.net