It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel. — Proverbs 20:3
(Learn more about peace, shalom, with our complimentary study, The Meaning of Shalom.)
I once heard a joke about a husband and wife who weren’t speaking to each other. The husband had a dilemma since he needed his wife to wake him at five the next morning so he could catch an early flight. Not wanting to be the one to capitulate first, he wrote her a note saying, “Please wake me up at five,” and placed it on her pillow. The next morning, the man woke up at seven. “Why didn’t you wake me?” he yelled at his wife. “I did!” she replied. She pointed to a piece of paper next to him. It read: “Get up!”
While we may laugh, the sad truth is that so many relationships are hurt by the need to preserve our pride and honor.
In Numbers 5:23-28, we learn about a ritual procedure that was carried out when a woman was suspected of being unfaithful. As part of the process, God’s name was written on a piece of paper and dissolved in bitter water that the woman would drink. If nothing happened to her after drinking the water, she would be vindicated and the marriage would be restored. As the rabbis point out, this ritual underscores how much God values shalom in the home – He is even willing to sacrifice His own honor by having His name erased in order to restore harmony.
The Jewish sages tell a story about a woman who came home late one Friday night. Her angry husband asked, “Where were you?” She answered, “I attended a lecture by Rabbi Meir at the synagogue.” The jealous husband said, “Don’t come back until you spit in Rabbi Meir’s face.” The woman didn’t know what to do, so she went to the synagogue to pray.
Meanwhile, the spirit of Elijah visited Rabbi Meir and told him what had transpired between that husband and wife. Elijah said, “because of you, there isn’t peace in that home.” When the woman arrived at the synagogue, Rabbi Meir pretended that he had a problem with his eye. He asked the woman, “Please spit in my eye – it’s the only remedy!” The woman did as told, and left relieved.
After she left, Rabbi Meir’s students asked, “How could you let yourself be dishonored so?” The Rabbi replied, “If God can let his honor be diminished for the sake of harmony in the home, so can I.”
Friends, if God can let His honor be diminished for the sake of shalom, so can we. We can be the first to speak and the first to say, “I’m sorry.” Sometimes, the bigger person is the one who knows how to make himself small. It is in humility that we find our true honor, or as we read in Proverbs, “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife.”
Stepping Stone 6: Let go of pride. Take a few moments to scan through your relationships and notice if pride comes in to play at all when there is a lack of shalom between you and another person. If so, consider what steps you can take to leave the pride behind for the sake of peace. Take one of those steps, and see how your relationship is changed because of that.
Hebrew Word of the Day
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