Choose Your Part

April 16, 2012 - 5:00 am

“Then the king said, ‘Bring me a sword.’ So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: ‘Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.’ The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, ‘Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!’ But the other said, ‘Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!’” — 1 Kings 3:24–26

In the opening chapters of the book of Kings, King Solomon is granted one wish. In this original genie-in-the-bottle moment, God appears to Solomon in a dream and invites him to ask for anything. King Solomon chooses to ask for wisdom. He places wealth, health, and immortality on the back burner, so that he can best serve God in his role as the king.

Immediately afterwards, we read the famous story about two women who approach the king about a dispute over a baby. The first woman claims that the other woman stole her baby after the woman accidentally killed her own child when she rolled over the baby during the night. The second woman denies the claim and insists that the living child is hers. King Solomon’s new gift of wisdom is demonstrated to the nation as he cleverly discerns the truth by offering to cut the baby in two in order to give both women half. As Solomon anticipates, the true mother is revealed when the second woman pleads with the king to give the whole child to the other woman rather than put the child to death.

When reading this story, we generally place the spotlight on King Solomon and marvel at his divine wisdom. However, when we shift the spotlight onto the second woman in the passage, a new story, with a profound message, begins to emerge. In a split second the baby’s true mother teaches the world that there are things more important in life than being right.

As human beings, we are bound to experience conflict with one another from time to time. We engage in quarrels with our family members, our co-workers, even the guy behind the check-out counter. Some of the time, we really are right and we know that we can prove it.

However, the question that we must ask is:  At what cost? Obviously the life of a child is more important than being right. But so is a child’s self-esteem. So is a marriage. So is a friendship. So is peace in the family. And the list goes on and on.

In every conflict, we get to choose the role that we will play. Will we play the part of the first woman – so intent on making the other person wrong that she is willing to give up everything, just so that the other person ends up with nothing? Or will we play the part of the second woman who focused on what was really important to her and was able to let the other person “be right” in order to preserve what she truly cared about?

In every conflict that we confront, the stage is set. We need only to choose our part. Choose wisely.


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