Way back in the 1900’s when I was raising a family someone gave me this timeless advice: “choose your battles wisely.” That’s because children will inevitably push the limits of our patience and energy in every way. Not every “battle” is worth fighting (i.e. arguing) over.
Of course, some “battles” are necessary when it comes to what is right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, safe or dangerous, or upholding family rules and values. Other battles that are not life altering or life threatening aren’t always worth the result and just make both parties miserable.
When my youngest daughter was 7 or 8, she wanted to dye her hair purple (this was 28 years ago, before it became a fashion). I didn’t necessarily want her to have purple hair, but it wasn’t worth arguing over, so she had purple hair for a while. When we were taking our young grandsons to church every Sunday and they wanted to wear batman costumes or full Indian headdresses, we said sure, why not? Shocking, I know, but they arrived at church happy and not sulking or crying about something that really wasn’t important in the grand scheme of things. Besides, it made everyone smile (or at least the ones who aren’t always looking for something to criticize).
How do you choose your battles? When it comes to dealing with other people’s thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that you don’t agree with, are you quick to criticize or condemn them? Are you confrontational? Do you passively-aggressively make remarks to, or about them, to others or on social media? The other day a member of a church I once pastored, shared a meme calling people “morons” for their stance on an issue that was being hotly debated. An issue, I might add, that will certainly be forgotten in a very short time. My first thought was why is that a battle you choose to fight and how does that represent Christ to the world?
As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). That means we are to represent who He is and His character in our speech and our conduct (including on social media). As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:20, it is “…as though God were making his appeal through us.” Our words and actions can either draw people to Christ or drive them away.
So, how are you representing today? Are you choosing to fight battles that have no lasting or eternal value? As someone wisely said: “You don’t have to show up for every argument you’re invited to.” I know I haven’t always represented Christ in the way that I should but I’m trying to do better. I hope we are all choosing our battles wisely and drawing others to Christ by our love (John 13:35)
Grace and peace,
NOTE: Pastor Pam’s charges include Fort Gibson United Methodist Church in Castlewood, VA and St. Paul United Methodist Church in St. Paul, VA.