The Fog of War

Fog is an inevitable weather pattern in many parts of the world.  It’s simply a fact of nature.  For humans, fog can be beautiful or depressing.  Most notably, fog can be deadly.  The fog does not hurt us, but it can lead to us hurting ourselves and others.  Devastating car wrecks, plane crashes, and pedestrian deaths have resulted because of fog.  When people cannot see clearly, death and destruction may occur.  In the proverbial “fog of war”, civilians are often killed and sometimes even allies and fellow soldiers (in “friendly fire” incidents).  When things get foggy, people often hurt both themselves and other people.  Dangers are not seen, and enemies are concealed more easily in the fog.

This is why one of the greatest expressions of love can simply be providing clarity.  Ambiguity can be unloving, even if it’s unintentional.  I have certainly perpetrated ambiguity in speech or meaning when I did not intend to do so.  Yet I got hurt as a result - and so did others.  Clarity does not mean everyone must agree, just that everyone sees things accurately or understands where they are going.  Car wrecks and war crimes happen in sunshine also, but the odds of avoiding serious damage get better if we can avoid the fog of war by providing clarity with courage.

1 Corinthians 14:33 ESV - For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints.

James 4:2 ESV - You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

Obviously James uses the term murder in the destructive and hateful attacks to the name and reputation of a fellow Christian (and that is how I will use the term murder/murderer as well).  Let’s apply these Scriptures to times when you are frustrated because you just don’t understand where someone is coming from or why they made the decision they did — or perhaps you just want them to clarify things because you’re confused…  This could be at work, at school, in a marriage, in a family, in church, or anywhere with anyone.  This kind of fog happens whenever there are people!  

So what happens often when people desire clarity but never get it?  Some will eventually become murderers.  Not physically (in most cases), but spiritually.  When we become frustrated and discouraged by lack of clarity, the temptation is for us to be given to anger - even to the point of murdering people’s reputations.  We may murder their credibility.  We may murder their opportunities with others.  We may murder the respect others would otherwise have for them.  If we search our hearts before God and ask Him to shine the light upon them, all of us at some point have fallen not just victim to name murdering but have been perpetrators as well.  May God forgive, cleanse, and remake us as He did the murderous Saul of Tarsus into the great Apostle Paul.  Can you think of any names or relationships you have murdered?

It’s tragic to say this, but marriage partners have sometimes been “murdered” because of one spouse’s hatred over lack of clarity.  If you’ve ever been a leader, a boss, or an authority figure, you’ve had your name murdered by people who didn’t understand you or your motives - and who didn’t lovingly try to get clarity.   The issue of the “name murderer” is usually never “the” real issue.  Instead it becomes about something else where your motives and character are now the issue when really lack of clarity was a catalyst for inflaming their hidden issue.  How many “relationship murders” - in the workplace, in friendships, in extended families, in churches - would have been avoided if people simply had the courage to seek and provide sufficient clarity especially without fighting to the death to force agreement on every issue?  Ask for clarity till you get it!  You have not because you ask not.  Ask God for clarity, and  ask those in a position to help resolve your problem.  There’s no need to resort to name-murdering gossip to others.

The good news is that those of us who follow Jesus have His example of offering forgiveness to His murderers while He hung on the cross.  By the grace of God, we may forgive the murderers of our names and character.  Will you forgive your murderers?  Will you ask God to reveal if you have been too unclear or too uncourageous in your interactions with others (especially if it resulted in unresolved conflict)?  And if you find yourself increasingly frustrated, angry, or agitated with someone around you, will you please do whatever it takes to get real clarity about their meaning and intent rather than allowing the seeds of murder to germinate in you?  Clarity may never equal agreement, and that’s OK.  Be courageous.  Be clear.  Be loving.  Be Christlike, be sacrificial — and be willing to love by clarity and courage.  Who is it that is frustrated with you because of your lack of clarity?  Who do you need to get clarity from to avoid becoming embittered?  For what clarifying conversation do you need more courage?  Pray.

1 John 3:11-16 NLT - This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. 16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Applying LCC Talk: Principles for Life-Giving Communication in a Hate-Speech World

  1. Love by Candor & Confidentiality:  BE TRUTHFUL — BE TRUSTWORTHY

  2. Love by Converting Conflict:  PURSUE LIFE NOT STRIFE

  3. Love by Clean Conversation:  PROMOTE THE PURE NOT THE PROFANE

  4. Love by Compassionately Confronting:  CONFRONT LIKE JESUS, RESPOND LIKE JESUS

  5. Love by Clarity & Courage:  BE CLEAR — CONQUER FEAR.