|Ruth and Rebecca, in a not-squabbling moment.|
Being a mom has taught me many things, and one of them is how to better relate to God as my Father. I've also learned much about myself as I see reactions and behaviors that are typical of human nature being acted out as openly as only a child can act them out. Children are less concerned about appearing perfect and righteous to others. Adults, on the other hand, frequently have layers of motives behind their actions, and it can be hard to tell why they do what they do. But if you understand more about children and why they do what they do, you will see that adults have the same feelings, and often respond in the same way.
Let me make an example. When I noticed that two of my little angels were at odds with one another, I put them to work to do a job together, hoping that the comraderie would help them to see things the same way. They didn't trust my judgement on that. Both of them believed with all their hearts that the other was at complete fault, talking about it would resolve nothing, and that the other child would take advantage of them and make them do more work than they needed to do. Needless to say, they did not complete their job. With both of them on the defensive, pushing the other to work, nothing happened. This made a problem for everyone as we had to endure their work not getting done, and the tension they caused in our home. As I looked at them, with their arms crossed, chins jutting out stubbornly, blaming the other person, and taking no blame for themselves, I was reminded of adults (sometimes me!) with the same attitude. (Note, the correction of this problem not being part of my point, I am leaving it out, but it was corrected!)
We might not take that posture, but in our hearts we despise others. We are always on the alert to see that others do their fair share, and when there is a problem, the last place we look is our own hearts and our own actions. When God gives us clear instructions that we ought to go to the person we have conflict with alone and talk, then go with one or two to judge between, we get uncomfortable, and come up with all kinds of reasons why it's better to talk to all our closest friends about the matter, and why trying to talk to the person in question just won't work. (Read Matt. 18 for a step-by-step how to on personal conflict.) God knew all the circumstances that could happen ahead of time when He gave us these instructions, but we don't see His wisdom when we are justifying ourselves. We end up believing that God is wrong, and that belief comes out in our actions. It also creates a mess for the people of God around us since the work that God wants to complete through us does not get done. We usually end up hurting ourselves and others and damaging the environment of God's house.
When David thought of how the unity of brethren made him feel, it reminded him of the anointing of the servant of God; that holy day when a person is separated unto God for service. (Psalm 133) It reminded him of the fragrance of the anointing. When we live in unity, it is a testimony to all of our holy separation unto God. It means we are willing to lay aside our own preferences, to humble ourselves at times, and to do it for the sake of the kingdom of God. It means that at times we will need to not stand up for our own rights, because we love Him, and we know that He is grieved when we are not in united.
As a parent, I understand a small portion of the hurt God feels when His children treat one another hatefully and with pride. I can see the end of this, and am compelled to correct it. My children do not look that far, and need to learn to trust me that learning to work together is way more important to me than the washing of a few dishes. God also sees the end of our squabbling. He sees the good He can do if humble ourselves and follow His word, and He sees the destruction that will come when we resist His wise command. As His daughter, I want Him to experience the fragrance of unity from me and my relationships!