| Can Rights Be Wrong?
Here again the concept of stewardship serves as a helpful guiding principle [in thinking about your rights]. Rights are not something you deserve and possess for your own benefit. Rather, they are privileges given to you by God, and he wants you to use them for his glory and to benefit others, especially by helping them know Christ. As a steward, it is also appropriate to consider your needs and personal responsibilities (Phil. 2:3-4). Thus, whenever there is a question about your rights, you should ask yourself questions like these:
- “Will exercising my rights honor God by showing the power of the gospel in my life?”
- “Will exercising my rights advance God’s kingdom–or will it advance only my interests at the expense of his kingdom?”
- “Will exercising my rights benefit others?”
- “Is exercising my rights essential for my own well-being?”
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 94
Food for Thought
Have you ever heard someone say (or have you yourself said), “I have my rights–and it wouldn’t be just to let him off so easily. He doesn’t deserve it!”
This kind of thinking–focusing on our own rights–is pretty typical in conflicts. We think in black and white terms: “I’m right. He’s wrong.” And when we’re thinking about rights, we’re usually thinking about justice. We want justice. Now.
Of course, that justice is to be meted out on the other person. See, here’s the problem. We are quick to want justice to be executed on others, but slow to seek that same justice for ourselves. In that situation (and every situation, for that matter), our only hope is the gospel. When we remember that we deserved justice but instead received abundant mercy, we are free to extend that abundant mercy to others. Praise the Lord that we do not receive what we truly deserve!
Yes, there are times to exercise rights. But there are also times to lay them down. Re-read the questions that Ken asks above. Then think about a situation you face where you are tempted to assert your rights. In doing so, can you honestly answer these questions in the affirmative? If not, then pray and consider how you might lay down your rights for God’s glory, imitating Christ, who lay down his rights (and his very life) for your sake.
|Resources to Help You Respond to Conflict BiblicallyHave you appreciated nibbling on the morsels of wisdom contained in PeaceMeal? The quotes come straight out of our flagship resource, The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande. If you haven’t read this book, we encourage you to buy it and dig into the “main course” of biblical principles in it! If you have already read it, consider buying an extra copy of the book to give away to friends or family members who would be blessed to read it. The Peacemaker is available through our online bookstore or call our Resource department at 800-711-7118.
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