Bouncing or Bearing
The following devotion from Matthew Jacoby challenges my ‘bouncing ball’ personality.
‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger’ (Proverbs 15:1).
Conflict is like one of those very bouncy bouncing balls. Every time it hits a hard surface it is propelled back up in the air. Likewise, conflict is perpetuated by hard hearts and anger bounces back and forth on the hard surfaces, gaining energy with every bounce.
When a bouncing ball hits a soft surface, however, the ball is absorbed into that soft surface and loses its energy at once. So if the ball hits the floor, then the wall (you can tell that I have young children!), then the couch, it will stop immediately when it is absorbed by the soft cushions on the couch.
It is the same when anger strikes a soft and gracious heart. The gracious heart absorbs the anger and does not return it. When this happens the endless bouncing ball of conflict is finally stilled and there is peace again. It is not just because the gracious person is willing to not return anger. Conflict is stilled when the gracious person returns love; when, rather than defending himself and retaliating, he listens, empathises and apologies.
This is what it means to be a peacemaker. It is the willingness to absorb the wrongs of others. This is what Jesus did for us and he calls us to do it for one another so that the cycle of vengeance in the world will come to an end. It is not easy to live by grace. But it is much harder to live in endless conflict.