I wonder if you have ever heard the phrase, “Falling on one’s sword?” I think that we all understand that it refers to a soldier literally taking his own life to avoid capture by the enemy. But what does it mean as a metaphor for Christian living and growth?
All of us have dealt with conflict in our lives. It is just part of living in relationship with other fallen individuals. Sometimes we are the instigator in conflict and sometime we are the recipient of conflict. The point is this, (pun intended) the conflict will never be resolved until the person of maturity sacrifices themselves (or position) to attempt to resolve the situation. Yes, not all conflicts can be resolved but what I have found is that humility, falling on one’s sword, often opens the door to resolve relational standoffs that plague all of us at one point or another.
I want to dig a little deeper on a verse that the Lord brought to my attention in a message by one of our pastors a couple weeks ago. It is a verse that challenges Jesus’ followers to respond to God’s corrective work in our lives. The people in our lives often become God’s tool in our life transformation. Paul writes, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) I would imagine that there are very few people that enjoy being confronted or having to confront someone. The result is that we all too often sweep issues under the proverbial rug by ignoring them. We are quick to make excuses for our own behavior or the behavior of others. We might say, “You know they are just a Bobby!” We might also excuse the behavior by saying, “You know they are under a lot of stress!” There is no limit to our rationalizations to having the “hard” conversations.
The danger is that the issue goes unresolved and those involved miss the opportunity for spiritual growth. Instead we fortify our position (arguments) on why we are right and why the other person is wrong. We prepare for a confrontation as a prosecuting attorney rather than as a peacemaker. Jesus also addressed this essential, of falling on one’s sword, using the metaphor of removing the log from your own eye before addressing the splinter in the other person’s eye.
So how does this relate to our verse in 2 Corinthians 7:10? First, it reminds us that communicating the truth is necessary for spiritual development. It is only when issues are addressed rather than avoided that “salvation” or by application spiritual development results. Yes, we must deal with others with gentleness and respect but we must speak the truth in love.
Second, our Corinthians verse reminds us to respond to the Holy Spirit’s working in our lives through our exposure to God’s word and the concerns of others in our life. The key here is that by humbling ourselves and responding to what the Lord is attempting to do in our lives results in our spiritual growth and in the growth of those in our life. The Bible does not say that it will be easy, but it is necessary for those that truly desire to live a transformed life.
I personally have found that “falling on my sword,” taking responsibility for my part in the conflict, no matter how small, almost always opens that doors to resolving the issues. This is true if it is the Holy Spirit convicting me in an area or another person that I have offended. Life is so much better when we put Biblical truth into action in our own lives first!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson