Deuteronomy 2:26-37 – Sometimes Conflict is Forced Upon Us Conflict Avoiders

Posted: November 30, 2016 in Book of Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 2:26-37

Victory over Sihon of Heshbon

All my life, I have been a conflict avoider. I have always avoided conflict wherever I could. Part of it, I think, comes from the fact that I get flustered when I argue. It seems that others can organize their thoughts and positions in the heat of battle better than I can. Part of it comes from lack of confidence in my own position because I am never 100% convinced that I am not wrong in some way. Part of it comes from my inability to organize my thoughts quickly. I am good at pondering a subject and writing, sometimes, at length about it, but, I am no good at quickly articulating the crux of my positions in the heat of battle. I always walk away from confrontations beating myself up for what I should have said. Usually though, in my life, I have abandoned defending my own rights in relationships just to make other people happy. That has been true in virtually all my relationships, regardless of type. That is especially true when it came to my past relationships with women. Regardless of relationship type, I would rather keep the peace than have conflict. I would rather ignore my own rights than allow them to come in conflict with others exercising theirs. I would rather internalize anger than express it. I would rather that everybody just get along than champion my rights or the rights of others when it would require great conflict to do so.

 

Never was this more true than in my second marriage. Due the pure hatred that my first wife had for my second, my second wife pretty much disdained anything to do with my past before I met her. That included my children. She had a good relationship with my children at first because, I think, ultimately, it was her way of having victory of my first wife. However, as our relationship progressed from dating to marriage, her relationship with my children deteriorated. She began to resent the hold that my children had on my life. She resented that I had to spent part of our family budget on child support. She resented the naturally stronger relationship that I had with my birth children than I had with my step-children. She resented that I disciplined my girls differently than I disciplined her boys. There were two reasons for that. First, my girls were simply better behaved than her boys. Second, boys are just more stubborn than girls. With girls, in general (or at least with mine), you could look at them with a sinister look and they would stop doing what they were doing. I could tell them once not to do something and it might take a couple of months to have revisit that same discipline issue. However, with boys, in general (or at least with my stepsons), you have to tell them not to do something against the family rules virtually every day and they would act as if they didn’t know it was family rule. With boys, they are born to challenge authority and my stepsons did at every turn. This boys vs. girls thing was huge. This my kids needs vs. your kids needs was huge. There was a resentment in my house for what I had to do with and for my kids. It was the most heartbreaking thing that I had to participate in. For me, it was more important, at the time, to keep my second wife happy. At the time, and at least to me, she was young, beautiful, sexy, and she was awesome in the bedroom. And, I placed my personal value in how my second wife felt about me, particularly sexually. As a result of this need for approval through sex, I voluntarily began distancing myself from my children. I did what only I was legally required to do financially – and nothing else. I only got my children when I was legally required to do so. They were not included in my second family’s vacations or special events. I wanted to limit the contact between my girls and my household so as to prevent the possibility of conflict. All to, in my mind, keep my second wife happy. I was certainly not father of the year material to my children. There is not a day that goes by now that I do not think about how I failed my children in those years when they were young children. I traded peace at home with my second wife for relationship with my daughters in those years. Having a happy wife who would approve of me sexually was more important than my relationship with my children.

 

However, sometimes, circumstances force conflict. When my oldest daughter was 16, she began to have conflict with her mom, my first wife, to the point that they could no longer get along. Long story short, she came to live with me, my second wife and my stepsons. Although the relationship between my oldest and my second wife improved (I think it was seen by my second wife as a vindication or a victory over my first wife), there was this underlying tension there and I knew it. I tread on eggshells to make sure these two got along. It worked for that two years before my oldest went off to Clemson for college. For some reason, my second wife thought that since my oldest was 18 that she no longer needed our financial support. As you know, college costs much more than tuition. Conflict ensued. I avoided it my hiding my financial support of my little college girl. I kept it all well-hidden but as always lies find you out. Keeping the peace when there are unresolved issues never works. Ultimately, the conflict came to light. I had to choose between my support for my child and the whole second wife/female sexual approval thing. For once in my life, I did the right thing and stood by my child and what I needed to do to support her financially above and beyond legal requirements. Of course, that ended the marriage. But, to this day, I do not regret that decision even though it caused a second divorce. No amount of sexual approval is worth abandoning your children when they need you most. Sometimes, you must stand up for what is right regardless of what it costs you. Sometimes, you must do the right thing even if it involves conflict. Sometimes, conflict is unavoidable.

 

It was that brewing and unavoidable conflict concerning my kids vs. your kids that I thought of when I read today’s passage, Deuteronomy 2:26-37, because what Moses attempted to do compared to what He ultimately had to do were so similar to my situation. Let’s read it together now:

 

26 From the Desert of Kedemoth I sent messengers to Sihon king of Heshbon offering peace and saying, 27 “Let us pass through your country. We will stay on the main road; we will not turn aside to the right or to the left. 28 Sell us food to eat and water to drink for their price in silver. Only let us pass through on foot— 29 as the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, and the Moabites, who live in Ar, did for us—until we cross the Jordan into the land the Lord our God is giving us.” 30 But Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. For the Lord your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done.

 

31 The Lord said to me, “See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you. Now begin to conquer and possess his land.”

 

32 When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, 33 the Lord our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. 34 At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed[a] them—men, women and children. We left no survivors. 35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves. 36 From Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the gorge, even as far as Gilead, not one town was too strong for us. The Lord our God gave us all of them. 37 But in accordance with the command of the Lord our God, you did not encroach on any of the land of the Ammonites, neither the land along the course of the Jabbok nor that around the towns in the hills.

 

Here, in this passage, you see that Moses attempted to offer peaceful terms with the king of Heshbon. What he offered seems perfectly reasonable. It was a peaceful alternative to an all out war. Moses just wanted to pass through and not have any conflict. They were willing to pay for what they ate. They were willing to pay for any supplies that they needed. Moses was basically saying, “Let us walk through your yard to get to our house. We won’t mess anything up. Just let us pass. Be cool! We don’t want any trouble!” However, Sihon wanted nothing of it. He did not trust the Israelites. He was fearful that once they were inside his land that they would squat and take over. So, he decided to take the confrontation to the Israelites. Because Sihon did not take the offer of Moses (because of his pride), he disobeyed God’s will. As a result, the Israelites wiped them out. The sin of pride and the sins of pagan god worship of the people ended in their destruction. Moses did not want the conflict. In fact, he offered peaceful terms to prevent the bloodshed. But, as you and I know, sometimes conflict is unavoidable. No matter how hard we try to avoid conflict, sometimes people force our hand and make us choose conflict over peace. And sometimes the conflict is a righteous one because accepting peace sometimes means quietly accepting what is wrong and not doing what is right.

 

That was certainly the case when it came to supporting my children beyond what was the basic legal requirement. Accepting peace at home (just so I could enjoy my wife’s feminine charms) meant not doing what was right by my daughter in college (who depended on me solely for her support since her mom had basically written her out of her life). Sometimes, when we are quiet in the face of wrong, we make deals with devil just to keep what we want to keep. That was certainly the case for me. I so desperately needed the basic value of who I was that I drew from sexual approval that I would sell my soul for it. I would not stand up for what I knew to be right. I would not argue over things that could possibly endanger my bedroom approval. However, sometimes, we have no choice but to make a choice. Thank God I woke up in 2004 and made the right one.

 

Are you quiet in the face of what you know is not right? Are you letting someone run over you just so you can have approval? Stand up for what is right. No relationship is worth selling your soul. Talk it out. Stand up and say what you feel. If the relationship is worth anything to the other person, then, they will listen. If not, endure the conflict and move on. Pray to God for change. If the person that is trampling on you is influenced by the Holy Spirit, they will listen and they will change. However, if they have turned their back on God, you may have a choice to make. Is this relationship worth doing what is against God’s Word? Is this relationship worth selling my soul when I ignore what is right and accept what is wrong.

 

As Christians in general, we too must quit avoiding conflict just to keep the peace. We have this tension of trying to fit in with the culture while we are supposed to be defending God’s Word. That is the tension we face as Christ followers in a culture that is increasingly far from God. We can be in the world but not of it. We can engage the culture but not participate in their sins. We can develop relationships with those who thumb their nose at God but we cannot condone their lifestyles. That is a conflict waiting to happen. Is it not? At some point, we must choose God’s ways over the world’s ways. At some point, we must speak truth (in love) to the lives of those who have turned their back on God. We can engage but we cannot assimilate into culture. We must be different. We must sometimes have conflict with the flow of culture. Sometimes, we must be willing to be persecuted in some way rather than compromise and accept and validate that which is against God’s Word.

 

What are you accepting that is wrong just to avoid conflict?

 

Amen and Amen.

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