Training for Reigning - 12 - The Last Word


THE above HEADING is capable of a double meaning intention- ally But primarily the reference is to the last word in Philippians 2:14 For although it is in the Bible, yet nobody seems to pay much attention to it, mainly, I suspect, because few people recognize it for what it really is.
Hoping that I will not be charged with writing in a frivolous manner, let me try to describe for you a typical form of conversation heard in many Christian homes. In so doing it may be that someone s sense of recognition may be aroused In this imaginary home let us suppose that there are Susie, Judy, Jim and Mother at home - all saved, of course - the three young people being students in the local high school. This particular morning Susie’s voice is heard above the battle of preparations to leave for school carrying an unmistakable note of irritation. She calls out an angry wish that Judy would leave her things alone! Judy - in innocent surprise - asks whatever ails her now Susie flashes back a list of Judy’s misdeeds
and a wordy battle begins that will fray four people’s tempers before it ends.
Jim relays to his mother the choice bit of information that "they are at it again." But mother, knowing her son’s ability "to keep things going," promptly silences him. Thus by the time several doors have been slammed, and the three young folks have departed, tensions are running in high gear which only the demands of countering interests will soothe and erase.
Now it may be that some of my readers will feel that it is improper to mention such things in a Christian book That the evil is common enough will be admitted; but then no one ever expects to do anything about it Others, like the young folk’s mother, will deplore the frequency of such "arguments," and inwardly grieve The girls, themselves, would insist there is no cause for alarm because they aren’t really quarrelling at such times. They are merely stating their opinions. "And," as Susie would be likely to express it, "it’s a pity if a person can’t say what she thinks sometimes." As for brother Jim, he considers them a harmless bit of sport - "sounding off" he calls it, with more accuracy than grace of expression. Secretly he greatly admires the person who can make "a snappy come back," as the fellows say. It really "goes over in a big way" with woridlings, too. Makes them respect you, he believes. As for father, he doesn’t witness many of these "arguments." Anyway they cause him little concern since "youth must have its fling." He doesn’t despise a certain amount of repartee. Moreover, he believes that as the young people grow older they will lose much of their combativeness. He feels he should keep his mind clear for more important concerns. So, as I have said, nobody thinks much about that last word in Philippians 2: 14, even though it is agreed that it has some bearing on verse 2 of chapter 4, and that it had something to do with the writing of the Epistle.
Why do I speak of this particular sin?
It is because they are evidences all around us of the damaging effects that have developed from the UNRECOGNIZED HABIT of home disputing. Some parents, often unconsciously, train their children to indulge in a battle of wits that widens out, later on, into the vigorous challenging of the ‘teenagers. BUT DOES IT END THERE? These young people marry; then they transplant into their own home life the same practices. Inevitably the thing shows itself in Assembly gatherings. But I must confess that not until recently have I realized that many Assembly troubles are directly traceable to disputing habits developed within the home circle. Yet if we become skilful in gaining the acceptance of our views through disputing in everyday surroundings are we not likely to carry this method with us into the local House of God? And how then shall we "Let this mind be in you" - the mind of Christ?
Another sobering thought is the fact that a growing proportion of the neuroses and stress diseases current among the Lord’s people actually originate in nervous tensions built up through the years by just such disputes as 1 have described, but on more adult lines. Were it necessary, a long list of cases of seriously unhappy home-life among the Christians could be cited, also.
But I write thus neither to amuse, to criticize, nor to condemn.
I, myself, have sinned too many times in this manner. All that is before me is a desire to depict my topic so clearly that disputing, of every form, may be recognized as disputing:
-not disregarded as being mere arguing, or repartee;
-as something to be overcome, not condoned;
-as a practice opposed to "the mind of Christ";
-as destructive of effective testimony;
-as a MENTAL HAZARD, the direct cause of the major part of the tensions that harass many otherwise worthy Christian homes. Have I succeeded?