Sometimes in life, things can get very out of order without us doing anything wrong. We’re just getting on with life and stuff comes at us from nowhere. It’s easy to get on our high horse, claim our rights, and win the case. But in doing so, we may make more enemies, so still end up as the losers. One house we lived in, we had a bit of a run-in with our next-door neighbour. We weren’t aware of doing anything to offend him, but he seemed to be looking to doing little things to annoy us, and would turn away if he saw us. Although it wasn’t easy, we decided that the opportunity to build any relationship with him would be forfeited if we tried to do take him up on any issues. I wish I could tell you that we managed to turn him round, but at least we managed to operate damage-limitation.
Abram was just going about his daily life when he suddenly got in the middle of a war between various tribes. (Genesis 14 v 1 – 16) God had promised him the land anyway, so why should he go and get involved in the fighting? It was only when he heard that his nephew Lot had been taken captive, that he called up his men and some close allies, and by some clever tactics, took back the people and the spoils.
He did not need to fight for the land – it would come to him in due course, but the people were well worth fighting for.
We need to pick our battles carefully. We need to consider whether the gains are worth the effort and the risk. People are always worth more than pride, and relationships more than real estate.
Jesus instructed us in Matthew 18 v 15 – 20, how to avoid court proceedings against a brother by dealing with things inside the church; but more often, our grievances are far less significant. They are not the sort of thing you would fight over, go to court over, or even make an official complaint. Yet we still feel justified in holding tightly to our ‘rights’, and in doing so, we may miss out on love and friendship and fellowship, and gain a load of grief and angst. Sometimes we gain more by quietly forgiving and moving on.
Yet there are times when it is well worth the battle. When people and relationships are at stake. Choose your battles carefully, and save your energy for those times!