How cravings bring conflict and how to step off the desire-demand-dominate-destroy loop.

How cravings bring conflict and how to step  off the desire-demand-dominate-destroy loop.

We’ve been talking about the current outrage culture that has fueled so much contempt in our interactions with one another.

Outrage has become a cheap substitute for morality in our country. We no longer value actual morals like telling the truth, loving your neighbor, or not coveting what your neighbor has, so our culture has to offer a conscience-appeasing substitute by holding on to a form of “righteousness” while engaging in unrighteousness the whole time.

24/7 hour “news coverage” feeds us a diet of reactionary outrage. We use the connotation of words as weapons to silence opposition.

This has become of the feast of modern day life which we must resist. We were not created to feed on the rhetoric of propaganda which polarizes us into tribes and factions.

Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred,”

– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

We are fed the lie that offendedness is a virtue. (See Abigail Dodd’s wonderful article entitled “Blessed are the Unoffendable.” An instructive and convicting read.)

Is it any wonder that anger and anxiety runs high and our attention span and love runs low while we feed on the slow drip of constant news meant to shock and divide with every click or scroll?

If we would be quick to hear, and slower to speak, maybe we could decrease our wrath and increase wisdom.

Outrage is a progression, and when followed back to its origin and examined, we realize it began with differences.

Differences show we are human and not a carbon copy of anyone else. Differences show the creative hand of God in the creation. As women created by God with unique backgrounds, experiences, and goals, we all have different ideas, opinions, interests, methods, abilities, gifts, priorities, personalities, sensitivities, and causes we are passionate about. None of these differences should be causes for conflict in and of themselves. Conflict begins when we allow ourselves to get frustrated by someone else differences. Our frustrations reveal what we crave and when we fight to get what we crave, these desires deemed demands can lead to interpersonal problems, hard feelings, quarrels, strife, and long standing feuds.

And if left unchecked, the craving heart morphs into the idolatrous heart. Idolatry always shifts our gaze from glorifying God to acquiring my will, my way, in my time, whatever the cost.

Friends, differences handled sinfully start conflict. It leads to unrighteous anger and will take you for a ride. Think of it as stepping on a carousel. Your anger in conflict buckles you in, and the pleasures of sin for a season becomes an exhilarating loop which can become a life dominating cycle: desire-demand-dominate-destroy. James exposes where this behavior originates

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

James 1:14-15

The Desire-Demand-Dominate-Destroy Loop.

You desire something you believe will solve all your problems, make you happy, or satisfied, will fulfill a longing, will finally make you accepted, popular, respected, powerful and will put you in control.

You demand it and chase it. You are addicted to the pursuit of that one thing. You believe it will make you feel loved or be loved. Someone has said that all idols demand sacrifice and when idols are served, it’s usually other people whom God called us to love who are walked over and exploited. Out of your love for your idol, you can be led astray to do all sorts of evil towards others. Your idol will become the ruling trigger in your life for every evil you choose to commit in its service.

You seek to dominate those who stand in your way on the pursuit of your idol

You will destroy those who won’t play by your rules or bend to your delusional world. In your pursuit of “happiness”, you are destroyed and those around you are defiled.

As Christian women, we can be gracious, overlook differences, give the benefit of the doubt, love, and pursue unity and peace.

I’ll interject here that the Bible does state that we should follow peace as much as it lieth in you, which is a qualifier. (Romans 12:18) It implies that sometimes it’s not possible. There are people who do not want peace because evil people exist and it takes two parties to declare peace.

But, you can live in peace because you have the peace of God ruling in your heart no matter what others do to you. God’s Spirit reigning gives us peace and spiritual wholeness.

So though some relationships are not “restorable”, due to safety issues, legal reasons, or lack of trustworthiness, we can still desire good for that person and hope that God does a work in the offenders life for His own glory and their benefit. A broken relationship is no excuse for you to partake in the sin of bitterness. Bitterness judges over and over again. It refuses mercy while claiming to partake of Gods grace. It is like the debtor who was forgiven much who harasses the debtor who owes him little.

If you’ve allowed conflict to become all consuming, if you’ve allowed yourself to mistreat one person while assuming yourself righteous in your own anger, if you’ve been unwilling to love another sinner, I have a New England blunt question for you: how long have you been holding a grudge and contributing to conflict? That answer, whether five minutes or five years, is exactly how long it has been since you were right with God? It is impossible for God to reign in your heart when you’ve allowed sin full sway. Why?

Forgiveness is not optional and if you won’t forgive another you are seeing your own spiritual condition as it really is: defiant.

Forgiveness acknowledges that God will repay and then prays for God to be merciful to the offending person just as God was merciful to you.

Forgiveness is an act of love, just like you love your own children and are hopeful for their future.

Forgiveness knows that God will continue to do a work through that other offending person in His time because He guarantees the outcomes of sanctification in those He has justified.

Forgiveness knows that the Holy Spirit is the one who works to teach, correct, and ultimately humble the wrong doer.

But, forgiveness is hard when your pride is swollen with demands and your cravings are ruling your life. (Plus, Unforgivenss causes ruined relationships, paranoid, a failure to love, the inability to enter into healthy friendships, and in some cases causes health problems.)

If we would engage in conflict in a godly manner,

If we would engage the culture around us without succumbing to outrage,

We must start at the beginning of all things.

You must have no other God’s before me. Our loyalty to God will keep our actions and reactions in check when our emotions are tempted to run wild or our tempers rise.

We must pro-actively follow God and not the idols we construct as ultimate.

And we must pro-actively choose to love our neighbor. Love refuses to think the worst of someone else. Love will not envy, speak evil of, or begrudge someone else good things. It refuses to be irritable, sour, or resentful. Love resists and impedes the building of conflict by renewing your own mind and putting Biblical borders around our thoughts.

I think in this age of outrage, we’d be wise to ask if we are contributing to the carnal culture by failing to love, assuming the worst, jumping to conclusions, and judging a matter before we know all the facts. If we love the Lord and His purposes, we will be godly in word and in conduct in conflict.

Conflict is a chance to embrace humility and grow in grace. May it be said of us that we were zealous for Gods glory in the middle of conflict and that we honored the Lord, showed humility, and reflected His character to those we claim to love (the world, our church, our husband and kids) in the face of differences.

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