“Erosion” Proverbs 17:14

“Erosion is the detachment of earth material from the surface. Once detached, agents like water or wind transport the material to a new location where it is deposited. The most ubiquitous form of erosion is that done by water.”

Have you ever witnessed erosion? A small trickle turns into a raging current; the greater the pressure that faster it happens. In fact, huge chasms have been formed as the result of erosions. Probably the most famous is the grand canyon.

Interesting to think the Grand Canyon didn’t form overnight. It took a long time for that chasm to develop. The same thing happens with relationships. What looked like a match made in heaven turns into a cold, distant marriage; next thing you know they’re signing paperwork. Two friends who used to be inseparable soon become acquaintances or perhaps even strangers.
Which brings me to Proverbs 17:14, according to the 2011 NIV:  “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” That’s a powerful image for the destructive power of arguments. Once a dam is breached there’s almost no hope for it. For all intents and purposes, it’s at the mercy of the water; and the longer the water has been building up and the greater the pressure, the more likely the dam is to be completely destroyed.
Luckily for us, this proverb also tells us how to prevent such destructive erosion from taking place in our relationships. The key is to simply drop the matter. Consider how often a petty disagreement can erode into an argument that can erode into a fight. Pretty soon, no one knows why they started arguing in the first place but it doesn’t matter because they’ll do anything to win. It’s foolishness and it’s destructive.
So, before starting a quarrel, consider what may become of it and whether or not it’s worth it. Elsewhere we’re given two illustrations from fire. In Proverbs 26:20, we’re told that quarreling will go out like a suffocated fire if we stop feeding it! This is contrasted, in Proverbs 26:21, to a person who keeps fueling the fire. The difference is obvious and easy to understand and apply:  if you stop fueling the flames they’ll burn out or, at the very least, they won’t get any bigger! As Christians, we should always be seeking the path of reconciliation in our relationships. Marriage is one of our greatest opportunities to glorify God, yet all too often I’ve seen dear friends constantly struggle with the same issues. And much of it has to do with pride mixed with erosion.
On the other side of the coin, this doesn’t mean that you never address any problems within a marriage or close relationship. It doesn’t mean that you let your spouse or loved one intentionally and repeatedly sin against you without confronting them. But we are called to be careful about how we confront them and why we confront them.
How:  We are to confront others in order to seek reconciliation, not just for the sake of quarrelling. Arguing just to argue is exactly how relationships experience erosion. Confrontation for the sake of reconciliation is how they become stronger over time. In fact, Jesus taught that when we have estranged relationships, they hinder our relationship with God (Matt 5:21-24).
Why:  Are we confronting a spouse of loved-one so that we can “win” an argument? Or are we confronting them so as to make them more like Christ? Who is benefitting from the confrontation, you or the other person? Our motives for confronting others should be for their benefit, never for ours. Christ set the ultimate example of humble love when He died for our benefit, not His. We are called to sacrificially love those around us and help them in the process of their sanctification.
Thus, we see that in our lives there must be a difference between quarrelling and confrontation. Quarrelling erodes a relationship and can eventually destroy it; confrontation—when done in a Christ-honoring manner—is meant to strengthen the relationship and build up the other person.

Spiritual Amnesia

Has it ever seemed like things are going really well in your relationship with God one day, and then almost the next day you’re spiritually in the dumps? Maybe your quiet times are going great and the Bible is really challenging you and speaking to you, and then the next thing you know it’s hard to even focus on what you’re reading. If you’ve been a Christian for longer than a year, this has likely happened to you. Like any relationship, the Christian life is full of ups and downs.

I was actually thinking about this earlier today. I decided to dub it “spiritual amnesia.” Spiritual amnesia is where, for whatever reason, you just forget who you are and, more importantly, whose you are. Why is it so easy for us to forget that we are redeemed people? We are holy and righteous. First Peter 2:9 tells us that we are the people of God and we are to worship Him. But sometimes we forget…

This has happened for thousands of years to many heroes of the faith. For example, Abraham is considered the father of faith (Gal 3:7) but he suffered from spiritual amnesia. In Genesis 12:1-3 God promises to make Abram a great nation. Abram then starts his journey of faith with God, he’s protected from Pharaoh (Gen 12:17), he rescues his brother, Lot (Gen 14:16), but pretty soon Abram doubts God. In Gen 15:2-3, the father of faith wavers in his faith. Sounds like Abram had a case of spiritual amnesia.

Another example is found in 1 Kings 18. In 1 Kings 18:38-39, Elijah witnesses God defeat Baal by sending fire to consume wood. Then God ends a multi-year drought (1 Kings 18:45) and then empowers Elijah to outrun a chariot (1 Kings 18:46). Then in Ch 19, THE VERY NEXT CHAPTER, Elijah hears that Jezebel wants to kill him, so he goes into despair and asks God to kill him (1 Kings 19:3-4). After going toe-to-toe with all the Baal prophets and seeing God win, Elijah is then afraid of one person. He was certainly suffering from spiritual amnesia.

Another example comes from John. In the John 6:10-11, Jesus feeds five thousand people. Later that night he walks across the sea to Capernaum (Jn 6:19). The crowd follows him and then in Jn 6:30-31 they ask him for a sign saying, “Our fathers ate manna from Heaven.” They seem to have forgotten that just yesterday Jesus had fed five thousand people bread… from Heaven! This is also a clear case of spiritual amnesia!

There are plenty of other examples of this behavior. In the book of judges, it happens repeatedly (Judges 2:19)! It seems like a common pattern for people in the Bible to forget about God. Sadly, I see this pattern in my own life too… So how do we “fix” it? Is there a cure?

I don’t know.

I think the only thing we can do is continually seek the face of God. The more time we spend with God, the more we will remember. Often I feel like the person described in James 1:24 who just can’t seem to remember who he is. As soon as I stop reading my Bible I forget that I’m a son of God. I forget that I have the Holy Spirit inside of me. I forget that I’ve been given everything I need to live a life that will please and glorify God. I forget.

But James 1:25 tells us we must look intently. There must be a purposeful, consistent, persistent gazing. We must have a pursuit of God. Too often, Christianity is portrayed as a once time event. Like turning 18. Once you turn 18, you’ll always be 18 without ever having to try or do anything else. Becoming a Christian is a lot more different. Becoming a Christian is about beginning a lifelong relationship. Being a Christian is a lot like being in love. We must pursue God, just like he pursued us. Being a Christian means responding to what God has already done.

Perhaps if we focus on what God has done we won’t be so quick to develop spiritual amnesia.