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Sweeping Changes

March 30th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 13: 10 (NLT)

 10 Pride leads to conflict;
      those who take advice are wise.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My wife loves it when I share stories from our personal life . . . especially when it involves conflict.  You’re gonna love this one, baby!  When I read this passage, my mind immediately went to an event that happened in my home just a few days ago.  Let me explain.

I’m not one of those men who fears housework.  Label me whatever you wish, but since my wife works a forty-hour per week job just like I do, and furthermore since a large share of the messes in my house are most certainly inflicted by my hands . . . why should I expect her to do all of the work cleaning them up?  Take it one step further.  Even if she didn’t work a job, God has called men to love our wives like we love ourselves.  Hmmmm, if I love myself so much that I want things around me to be nice . . . I want food to taste good . . . I want my home to be a pleasant environment in which my tired self finds safe harbor . . . would I not love my wife enough to help make these things happen for both of us?

Maybe that’s why the Bible says that “husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28 (NIV)  Wow!  Loving my wife is the same thing as loving myself?!  That’s nothing short of revolutionary to our thinking.  So, that means I should be more than willing to do anything for her that I would like for her to do for me.  Hence, we’re full circle to my story.

We were cleaning our house, dividing the jobs between us.  I had moved to the floors.  In our home, we have laminate flooring that looks like real hardwood . . . except it is indestructible; believe me, I’ve tried.  I had begun the process of sweeping when my wife came behind me and said something like this, “Uhh, are you going to do it that way?  Because you’re not getting all of the dirt up.”

I know that you never feel this way, but an emotion of conflict rose up within me at the audacity she had shown to question the quality of my work.  “Look, I’m doing this with you, but you have to stop following me around with a white glove . . . it’s unreasonable.”  I was warming up and I expected her to warm up as well.  You know the feeling . . . just push me a bit more and you’re going to pull back a nub!

“You know, you’re right, honey.”  Time stood still as I pondered her unexpected words.  “I shouldn’t question you while you’re working because I really appreciate all of your hard work.  I’m very sorry.”

What?!!  That’s not how it’s supposed to work.  Truth be told, I had my gun of conflict loaded to fire at least a few more rounds, but her gentle response locked me up.  I wanted to argue more . . . in essence, the attitude of conflict was still fresh in my mood.  Why?  That’s easy: pride.  My fragile ego was damaged because someone had questioned my performance at such a menial task– it was an unacceptable to me.

The argument was over before it began, but the truth had yet to emerge.  A little later, we switched jobs for a moment and she took hold of the broom.  Within five minutes, she had swept up a pile of dust and debris larger than the one I had already swept from the same room.  It became obvious to me that she had been right the whole time and that I was a sweeping idiot.

Or maybe just an idiot.

Then a passage like this surfaces and I am pinned harder than any donkey at a birthday party.  “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.”  How true this is in our lives.  How often has our pride caused mammoth conflict simply because we are unwilling to take advice.  How often has our method of sweeping been faulty, yet our pride is so great that we are impervious to advice . . . spiritually, of course.

Like most things in our lives, the issue of attitude is much greater than the issue of circumstance.  Attitude can be changed by our choice, while circumstances can’t necessarily be changed at all.  Growth will come to us when we decide to start cleaning our internal houses from the issues that truly bring negative conflict . . . pride . . . lust . . . greed . . . the list is endless.  

At the end of the day, I want to be teachable.  I desire for my ego to be violently overthrown by wisdom and humility.  It would appear that God is sending me ample circumstances to be exposed to the dirty floors of my attitude.  So, let the world hear my words . . . words that women in all cultures throughout the ages have longed to hear: I was wrong and my wife was right in every way.  

There, that felt good.  Geez, I wonder what else she’s been right about all these years . . . this could be interesting.




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