I remember hearing this in my childhood: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. I can, without any effort, imagine the why … my siblings and I were bickering. We were a bickering foursome. Though this parental plea was said in our home without any understanding that it was a word from God, the meaning was understood even by the quarrelsome four children – treat others the way you want to be treated. As an adult, the bickering isn’t about the last cookie in the canister or who gets control of the TV remote. But it still erupts when things don’t go the way I think they should.
Bickering sounds like an old-fashioned word, doesn’t it? I find, however, that it is relevant today for my reliance on the intention of God’s words to shape and inform my thinking and thus my words and actions. Those of you who’ve spent any amount of time with me in a study setting will not be surprised that I have a word-study to share with you on this topic. Even if this is a repulsive thought to you, please hang in there for a couple more minutes.
Here are the two verses in the Bible that include the word bickering. One from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, Moses is speaking to all of Israel, acknowledging that leadership of the growing nation of Israel (growing as God had promised!) was too much for a single man to shepherd … with a growing nation has come growing strife amongst the people.
But you are such a heavy load to carry! How can I deal with all your problems and bickering? Deuteronomy 1.12 New Living Translation (ESV translation uses the word strife.)
Strife or bickering means controversy, dispute, quarrel.
In the New Testament, it’s a letter from the Apostle Paul to his young friend and new pastor Timothy. Paul encouraging discernment about false teachers amongst those Timothy is shepherding …
If someone spreads false teachings and does not agree with sound words (that is, those of our Lord Jesus Christ) and with the teaching that accords with godliness … this gives rise to … constant bickering by people … 1 Timothy 6.3-5 New English Translation (ESV translation uses the phrase constant friction.)
The definition of constant friction or bickering includes: constant contention, incessant wrangling, misemployment, useless occupation.
Now my friend, I’m asking you to consider: Which definition hits closest to home for you? Disputing? Needling toward quarrel? Constant and incessant wrangling? Useless occupation?
How often I have found myself at the end of the day realizing I have allowed my thoughts to be inundated with bickering, with useless occupation all day! Why did she say that? How could they do that? What were they thinking? Doesn’t he know how he offended me? Constant friction in my thoughts and in some of the words I uttered aloud that day. Ugh.
But then … God reminds me that it is not about me. It is about treating others as I would like to be treated. To be forgiving, before the festering even begins. To be gracious, to be a part of dampening strife rather than fueling it. To ask myself, before I speak (or before I rehearse an offense in my head): Is what I want to say (or what I am thinking) true? Is it kind? Does it need to be said? Is it helpful?
It is about living like I know I’ve been rescued and I want every other person to know and live out the same rescue. So the bickering has to go! Repent and ask the Lord’s forgiveness. It’s time to interject The Golden Rule:
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7.12
Please know you are so loved!
With all hope in Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s work in us and amongst us, Colleen