After a brief, petty argument, we had arrived at a stalemate. Neither side wanted to back down, and so finally my wife conceded, “Okay Honey, I’ll say I’m wrong if you say I’m right.”

I waited for her confession. At last, it came: “I’m wrong.”

I acknowledged this as I said, “You’re right.” It wasn’t exactly what my wife had expected to hear at the time, but later we enjoyed a good laugh over it.

As the Apostle Paul and Barnabas prepared to begin their second missionary journey to visit the new churches they had planted, they experienced a conflict which didn’t have such a happy ending. Barnabas wanted to take his cousin, John Mark, on the trip, but Paul didn’t think this was a good idea. On their first trip, John Mark had abandoned the mission team because he could not handle the pressures of ministry. Both men were unwilling to bend on this matter, and this caused them to part ways.

Many a relationship which has withstood great testing has been damaged beyond repair by petty, trifling concerns. Solomon understood this in his relationship with his wife. He said,  Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. Song of Solomon 2:15. The same can be true of professional and vocational relationships. We must pray for wisdom lest our emotions override sound judgment when we deal with conflicts. We are sinful beings prone to error, therefore we should show grace towards one another.

Can you identify the little foxes which threaten to spoil your relationships? As you prepare to begin a new year, ask God to help you keep the little things in proper perspective so your relationships will remain strong and vibrant. If you have had a disagreement with someone else, let it go. Take steps of reconciliation towards them so you can move forward and see the relationship mended. Wild foxes and tender grapes don’t mix.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.