Conflict is one thing most of us hate. In fact, there are some people we would rather kill than have an open conflict with them. Isn’t that an extreme statement? Sadly, I think it is a true statement. We may not kill them physically, but we assassinate them in our heart and with our words to other people. William Blake, an 18th century English poet, wrote a poem that beautifully captures the process of unresolved anger and its end result. As you read “A Poison Tree”, think of the scriptures that, if applied, could halt this deadly process.
A Poison Tree
I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Notice when the speaker was angry with a friend, talking about the problem allowed the anger to subside. Anger with the foe was never openly acknowledged and it led to fears, tears, deceit, poisonous fruit, and a treacherous plan of revenge. The speaker succeeded in using the foe’s covetousness to kill the foe.
As the time for New Year’s resolutions approaches, let us resolve to resolve conflicts biblically, and not like the person in William Blake’s poem. Remember, we are supposed to produce good fruit. Think of all the scriptures that teach us not to let this kind of thing happen. Here are three:
23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. NASU
15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. NASU
26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. NASU
What other scriptures can you think of that teach the proper way to handle anger or resolve conflict? Please list them in the comments.