Care-fronting

Care-fronting

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18

1 Samuel 25:21-35

 21 David had just been saying, “A lot of good it did to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen. But he has repaid me evil for good.

 22 May God strike me and kill me if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning!”

 23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him.

 24 She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say.

 25 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests. But I never even saw the young men you sent.

 26 “Now, my lord, as surely as the LORD lives and you yourself live, since the LORD has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is.

 27 And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men.

 28 Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. The LORD will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the LORD’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.

 29 “Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the LORD your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling!

 30 When the LORD has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel,

 31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the LORD has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”

 32 David replied to Abigail, “Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today!

 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands.

 34 For I swear by the LORD, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.”

 35 Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”

“Creative living is care-fronting in conflict,” so wrote David Augsburger in 1973 in his preface to his first edition of Caring Enough to Confront: How to Understand and Express Your Deepest Feelings Toward Others. The title might have been “Learning How to Differ and Disagree with Others.” It is a practical application of the golden rule in the form of caring for others.

Augsburger’s method is simple: confront others as you would have them confront you, speak to others as you would want them to speak to you, respect the other person’s right to refuse your help as you would like to be able to refuse their help.

Typically, there are five standard strategies for dealing with disputes and misunderstandings. They have been categorized as: 1. Fight, 2. Flee, 3. Fall down, 4. Semi-freeze, and 5. Flow! In any given situation one of the five choices above may be prudent.

But with an eye on the end goal of personal and relational spiritual growth, learning to effectively use care-frontation may provide the best long-term solution regarding differences of perspective or arguments regarding preferences and opinions. Augsburger coined the term “care-fronting” as an alternative “tough love.”

It often involves compromise where the needs and wants of others are integrated into the resolution. It explains the art and practice of being a peacemaker. The focus should be on peacemaking and how the conflict is handled, rather than what the conflict is about. How often do we find ourselves engaged in arguments when we forget what even started them?

Conflicts are to be confronted with compassion in a healing and healthy manner. The Scriptures provide a special term to describe this: peacemaker.

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

The Greek term translated peacemakers is eirenopoios. It comes from two Greek terms: eirene – peace and poieo to make. This term refers to a mediator who attempts to de-escalate conflicts and bring about harmonious relationships. This is a well-known term to English speaking people. But surprisingly it is found only once in the entire Scriptures Matthew 5:9.

REFLECT & PRAY

“The best way to get rid of an enemy is to turn him into a friend” (Bruce).

Father teach me, encourage me, and empower me to be a care-fronter.

INSIGHT

When we are hurt or offended, it is natural to desire to retaliate and return injury for injury. But this is not the way children of the King are supposed to live. Rather we are to be peacemakers, care-fronters.

In 1 Samuel 25, we see a peacemaker in action. Abigail was married to Nabal. David and his men had protected Nabal’s flocks and shepherds from harm. They expected to be compensated for their efforts. Nabal refused to remunerate David and his men for protecting his livestock. David was a powerful warrior with an explosive temper. Upon hearing Nabal’s harsh rejection, David was filled with murderous rage and took off to destroy all that belonged to Naba

Nabal’s wife Abigail was far wiser than Nabal. She was peacemaker. She gathered up a large quantity of food and drink. Abigail met David and pleaded for mercy. She took personal responsibility for all of Nabal’s stupid decisions and behavior.

1 Samuel 25:27-28

 27 And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men.

 28 Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. The LORD will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the LORD’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.

She is extremely wise and clever with her words. She envisioned that time in the near future, when David would replace Saul and become king. Heretofore, David had a spotless record. He was a man after the Father’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Abigail reasoned with him and cautioned him against tarnishing his reputation with one reckless act of rage.

1 Samuel 25:30-31

 30 When the LORD has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel,

 31 do not let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the LORD has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”

David immediately capitulated and stopped in his tracks. Her gracious wisdom and care-fronting saved the day. Abigail prevented him from committing murder that could well have hounded him for the rest of his life. He praised her for her wisdom and the bountiful provision she brought for his men. David recognized that the Father had sent Abigail from seeking his own revenge.

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