4th June 2014

Cats, Conflicts And Conciliation

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
James 3:17 (

Fudge is a pedigree British Shorthair ex-tom cat who thinks he was made just a little lower than the angels. Purdy, on the other hand, is a rescue moggy with no known heritage but who is not one bit impressed by some jumped-up new-comer in the district.. They both stalk into my garden from neighbours on either side of me and confront each other. It’s not a question of me being the owner and steward of this little piece of greenery, but which cat rules this patch of land, full of birds and mice and other small tasty items. It’s warfare, or paw-fare if you prefer.

It’s quite ridiculous – why don’t they share it? It’s large enough for the two of them and a few friends besides. But before we roll our eyes at all this silly and unnecessary hostility perhaps we should take a look at ourselves: “But about the feuds and struggles that exist among you,” writes James. “You are jealous and envious of what others have got and you don’t possess it yourselves. Consequently in your exasperated frustration you struggle and fight with one another” (James 4:1-2 Phillips). He was writing to scattered Christians, not an article on regional politics for the Jerusalem Daily. Through the eyes of God our relational conflicts, whether great or small, are just as senseless and unnecessary as these two cats’ territorial argy-bargy.

In the previous chapter James tells us that God’s wisdom is the solution to our differences and disagreements. Take a look at just one quality in particular, the one that in the NKJV translation is ‘gentle’, or ‘considerate’ in the NIV. It comes from an untranslatable Greek word meaning not standing on our rights, knowing when it’s wrong to apply the strict letter of the law, showing mercy and forgiving when strict justice gives us a right to condemn, always remembering that there are greater things in the world than rules and regulations. The Archbishop of York has made a good stab at giving it an English equivalent: he calls it ‘gracious magnanimity’.

How essential it is to peace! Where would we be if God applied nothing but the rigid law to us? He restored peace between us and his gracious magnanimity is seen in Jesus’ life, who “when we were enemies died for us”, and reflected in his words on the cross: “Father forgive them”. Making peace is not without price and there will be times when we will find it costly. We can’t do much about our four-footed friends, but we will be living as Christ lives when we do as Paul says: Let your gentleness- gracious magnanimity – be known to all men (Philippians 4:5).

Father, grant us the gracious peace-loving reconciling wisdom of the Spirit of Jesus Christ to reign in our minds and mould our lives.

Study by Hilary Buck


hilarybuck1About the Author:
Hilary Buck attends Grace Communion in Lewes.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilarybucksbox@mypostoffice.co.uk

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