(photo courtesy: google images)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”- 1 Cor. 13:4-8
When I started writing this post, I instantly went to my childhood. I was raised around many cousins. All of us were close in age, but I had one who was the exact same age, in fact he was 1 month older. He and I had a competitive relationship.
He was the better looking one and I was the…well…he was the better looking one.
I tried to compete with him. He was faster. He was more in shape. He had slicked back hair and nicer clothes. I would have girls flocking to me…to get his number. I was jealous.
He and I would fight about stupid things on a regular basis due to my jealousy, I would like to think he was jealous of me, but I had nothing for him to be jealous over, except the fact that I would stay alive longer in a snow storm due to my natural reserves.
Anyway, I remember arguing in front of our grandma and our aunts (his mom and our aunt). I don’t know exactly what the argument was about, but I do remember getting so mad I threw him under the bus about getting in trouble at school. I waited for every opportunity to point out his flaws when we argued. I wanted him to know, I knew, that he made mistakes and he wasn’t as cool as others thought he was.
I didn’t fight fair. In fact, he knew things about me and would use them against me too, so I guess we were even.
Is that fair? Nope.
The reality is; this isn’t uncommon in any relationship. When someone does something wrong to us, whether it’s a spouse, friend, or relative, we tend to dig deep in our memory all the bad things that they have done or said in order to justify our anger even more.
We have an incredible way of remembering painful words or mistakes others have made, easier than we remember their birthdays.
Our inability to truly love the way scripture defines it, is quite possibly the reason why we can point out all the flaws or unkind remarks of people who hurt us.
There isn’t a wedding I have been to where the “The Love Chapter” hasn’t been read. Well, maybe there was, but I don’t remember. Anyway, this section of scripture has been overused for many years and quite possibly, the most ignored section of scripture after being heard (IABH)*, besides “Don’t worry”.
Fighting fair requires us to love unconditionally. Fighting fair requires us to remember our flaws before pointing out the flaws of others. Fighting fair is looking at this piece of Scripture and embracing the message before we speak in anger.
James 1:19 says “…everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”, but it isn’t always that simple.
How can we be better at following this instruction? Don’t put your needs above the needs of other people.
When your needs are more important, then you won’t fight fair. You’ll strive to get the last word. You’ll strive to be justified. You’ll strive to inflict more damage than the other person. All of this is because your need to be right, appreciated, valued, etc. is more important than the need to make sure the other person is validated or cared for.
When it comes to fighting fair, it isn’t about being right, but about being righteous. It isn’t about gaining respect, but giving respect. It isn’t about being justified, but God being glorified.
When we fight fair, our relationship can be reconciled easier and can continue to grow. When we fight unfairly, you might lose a connection with another individual, which is way more valuable than pointing out old hurts to justify inflicting new ones.
May we strive to love each other more than ourselves in order to fight fair and find quick resolution before more pain is experienced through words that can’t be taken back.
QUESTION: Do you have a damaged relationship due to not fighting fair? What can you do today to begin to rebuild or reconcile that connection?
*As a baseball fan, I’m used to seeing acronyms for different things: Runs Batted In (RBI); Earned Run Average (ERA); etc. So, I made one up Ignored After Being Heard (IABH) in regards to scripture. It’s fun, make it stick.