Diary Page Seven
November 16, 2001 -- Ahh contentiousness. Webster's defines a contentious person as one who is belligerent, prone to argue and quarrel over small things. A contentious person lacks humility and is not showing love. Today I've been meditating on Matthew 5:25,26 and it's companion Gospel account in the book of Luke, chapter 12 verses 58 and 59. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ addressed a number of issues involving feelings and human relations. And one of the issues he addressed was how we should behave when we have a dispute or disagreement with someone. Jesus said that we should be willing to settle the dispute with our brother, whatever it takes. Because if we are contentious and don't want to compromise or discuss the issue with the other person, then that person may take the matter out of your hands, and the consequences could be disastrous. He gives the example of being sued or taken to court on a matter by a complainant. He says to settle the matter before the person can take the step of bringing you before other parties, because then you may end up in jail or worse. And once you lose control and it gets to that point, you won't be able to extricate yourself from the situation until you have given over even the smallest coin of little value and everything of any value in your life.

So have I been a contentious person? Yes. All of my life I have had difficulty with dropping an argument or compromising, even for the sake of a relationship. I have argued over things sometimes just for the sake of arguing, because I always wanted to win. I hated being wrong, I didn't see making mistakes and being wrong as a way to learn, I saw it as a failure and I resented it. I started debates that I knew would lead nowhere. I have been difficult to deal with and it got to the point that my own aunt didn't want to talk to me because she feared an argument. I remember when my parents tried to teach me about humility when I was 9 years old after yet another argument. I absolutely could not grasp the concept of letting something go or compromising if you're "right". It took me many years to finally start getting it.

I do not think I am really a contentious person anymore, I haven't been for a while. I guess that means I'm almost perfect! LOL My relationships are vastly improved and I have personally been relieved of a great deal of stress and pressure that I didn't even realize I was placing on myself. Guess what. I was discussing an issue and I was wrong today. And not only was I able to admit it, but I didn't feel bad at all. Just chalked it up as one more thing I learned. Why feel bad when you discover the truth? It is so much better to do as Jesus tells us, to discuss the issue with the other person (which means listening) and to settle the matter.Oh sure, sometimes other people are quite wrong and they won't listen ;). But I value our relationship and my relationship with Jehovah God more than I value being right.

Did I just say that?

November 18, 2001 -- I cook. I am running the family budget. I wash dishes and clean things. Three seemingly insignificant statements but if I had read them on August 2, 2001 I would never have believed them about myself. It was my brother who pointed out how much I have changed. I told him we were having roast chicken for dinner and he couldn't believe I was cooking it. And I cooked last night's dinner and the previous night as well. AND I bought the groceries. Yet another amazing statement for me to make. The thing is, I never had a problem with doing any of these things and I always knew I'd have to eventually since I would be a housewife. It's just that I was too lazy and unmotivated to do them. Well 20 isn't too late, right? Huh, maybe next year...I'll wear MAKE-UP! No, that's a fantasy.

And fantasy is the focus of Matthew 5:27-30, romantic fantasy to be specific, although I think Jesus' words are wise in any situation. Jesus says that any man who constantly fantasizes about a woman (or women) and lusts after her has committed adultery in his heart. Adultery is adultery. This is an example of looking at the principle rather than just the letter of the law, something we all must do to imitate Jesus. Sometimes we cannot physically act out that which we think about a lot and fantasize about, but that doesn't mean that we aren't sinning in the heart by keeping our focus on unclean things. I know I have been guilty of this and still need to keep it in mind. I'm so much happier when I keep a lid on romantic fantasies, because all that does is frustrate me after all. Jesus tells us we should rather cut off the body member that is stumbling us rather than be destroyed. The Apostle Paul tells us we should deaden our body members. It's so hard because the world is constantly trying to encourage sexual fantasies and obsessions and calling it normal.

Jesus tells us to "turn the other cheek" and resist fighting at Matthew 5:38-42. It just isn't worth it to "speak your mind" sometimes or to "fight fire with fire" the way the world encourages. Yeah, people are going to be cruel and ignorant and they are going to be unfairly demanding. This world tells us that in such situations we should "fight for what's fair" and be assertive but all you do is end up fighting forever, because nothing is fair in this world.

November 21, 2001 -- Jesus says that if we love our enemies then we are emulating Jehovah God, who also shows love to His enemies (this is recorded at Matthew 5:43-48). In fact, in verse 48, Jesus shows this as a mark of perfection. Jehovah treats everyone the same, everyone gets to enjoy the sunshine so to speak. He is being patient with those who don't yet love Him, shouldn't we? It is really easy to hate the people who hate us. It's really easy to be nasty to the kids at school who are nasty to you. It's really easy to snub the woman at work who has an attitude problem when it comes to you. But perhaps we should actually try to be extra nice to those people, since it takes more effort. And as Jesus brought out earlier in the sermon, we should expect to be hated and persecuted as Christians and we should be happy for it.  I admit that like most imperfect humans I'm not too good at cozying up to people who hate me. On the other hand, I can't say I treat them any differently...I'm not too good at cozying up to anyone. But since I'm so interested in getting to know people (even if from afar) and observing and learning about new personalities, I should try to do the same with people who don't like me.

Matthew 6:14, 15 is part of the model prayer. It's the part that pertains to forgiveness, and forgiveness is so hard isn't it? Why have I been unforgiving? I think more than anything else it's due to my own resentment for some reason or another, and perhaps a little envy sometimes. It's hard to get into here, but maybe that's why I'm none to happy when I feel I've been snubbed or wronged somehow by one of those "groups", you know, the ones my friends love to have around. I try not to carry a grudge and it's easy for me to be nice as pie with them, but I don't really like them. And that's not being forgiving now is it?

Matthew 6:16-18 is really significant for me right now. Am I auxiliary pioneering for the right reason? Of course I'm panicking right now because I've missed a few days, but it's something to stay on top of for sure. I admit, I like being a pioneer. As a young female Christian, it gives me some validity, being a minister. Then again, on Monday I was seeing a man about a job, and I was really dreading going back to work because I enjoy the ministry so much. There is really nothing else I'd rather be doing.
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