Fight, Flight, Freeze or Make Peace?

Fight, Flight, Freeze or Make Peace?

Sister Miki Terayama - 12 June 2022

Weekend Devotion: Fight, Flight, Freeze Or Make Peace?

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Recently, my daughter was sharing with me how she is no longer close to her best friend because the friend is constantly being rude to her, making mean remarks during their playtime. So she decided to change her best friend to this other girl who is nice and likes drawing like her. It seems like a childish banter between kids, but being provoked or feeling attacked in different forms is something we all have gone through. And of course, we naturally gravitate towards people of the “same frequency” as us. However, the bible tells us to love others as we love ourselves, which is hard work because not everyone are kind and angelic. On the flip side, men are innately selfish, proud and can be different in their character, focus or values. So I thought to myself, how do I help my 6 year old understand God’s version of making peace and loving people in her situation? When, to be honest, even adults find it tough to be peacemakers in the face of provocation or hurtful exchanges with another. 

Well, this is precisely why the bible tells us to always cling onto a God-reliant and vigilant spirit. Because a lot of times, it is not that we do not want to do what the Lord wants of us, but that we are spiritual desensitised to the way we are being tempted and led by our desires and flesh. So we have to be more conscious about the sins before and around us.
Of course, we do not want to, in turn, develop a suspicious and defensive “shell” towards the people around us, but if we are not aware of the reality of sins, we will not be able to correctly understand what the Lord is telling us through the kinds of situations and the people we are facing. Only when we are often immersed in the Word of God, then we may be able to stand tall, understand the deeper implications behind conflicts and realise why the Lord tells us to make peace and love our enemies. Now, Jesus was one to be often provoked and taunted when He was going around sharing the gospel. But He often retreated back to face God and casted His burdens to the Lord, with a heart to bless others according to God’s instructions and to make peace with men. Today, we will read about another, who bears good witness and transformation as one who was once rash, belligerent and arrogant, to one who is later harmonious, compassionate and humble.
Let’s read 1 Peter 3:9-12. It says here, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 

Do Not Repay Evil With Evil

Now we all have a tendency to react in various ways when being provoked. As we often hear, it is the fight, flight or freeze options. Some may be quick to retaliate, some may choose to avoid the conflict, while others will just have no idea how to respond on the spot. But we must remember, the Holy Spirit does not enable us to be vengeful or react based on our frustrations or bitterness. The Holy Spirit is given to help us recall God’s truth and gain back the right intention of our response. And that intention should be to restore. Most of the time, we react based on emotions, assumptions or to make a point to another. But the Lord wants us to first go back to God’s Word and guard our hearts and minds. The world tells us to repay evil with evil, an eye for an eye. But in the Old Testament, this is only used for the judgment by the law. And Peter, remembering Jesus’ teaching to “turn the other cheek” in Matthew 5:39, encourages us to pay back wrongs by praying for the offenders. In Proverbs 25:21-22, it says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” And in Exodus 23:4-5, “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.” Therefore, let us keep in step with the what the Lord says. It may seem like a ridiculous and total opposite reaction to have but our Lord Jesus does not want to merely resolve matters of deeds but more importantly, the restoration of our spirits. Not to just let ourselves easily give rise to anger and self justification.

Keep Your Tongue From Evil and Lips From Deceitful Speech

Now, it is true that our tongue, our speech is hard to tame as it says in James 3:6-10, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” Here, James compares the damage of our words to a raging fire. Satan can use our tongue to divide and pit people against one another, causing lasting effects of hurts and scars. So before we speak, let us reflect on which speech pattern do we often fall into? Praises or curses? The tongue gives us a picture of our basic human nature. However, as “no human being can tame the tongue”, the Holy Spirit, however, can give us increasing power to monitor and control what we say. God works to change us from the inside out. So when we let the Holy Spirit purify our hearts, it gives us more and more self-control to speak words that please God. That is what happened to Peter as well.

Turn From Evil, Do Good, Seek And Pursue Peace

But how can we let the Holy Spirit take charge and make peace when we are angered or provoked? 1 Peter 3:11 goes on to say that we must turn from evil and do goo, seek peace and pursue it. Too often, we see peace as merely the absence of conflicts and we find peacemaking a more passive kind of role. But peace has to be pursued. We need to see the importance of building good relationships with the people God has placed around us. Instead of retaliating or sweeping issues under the carpet, we should deal with them before they grow unmanageable. Making peace is hard work but it results in God’s blessings. And this blessing is not the removal of problems or tensions, but the added strength through the Holy Spirit to have a spiritual perspective, love and humility as we go through these struggles. 

But what about situations where we really need to speak out the truth in love? What happens in a situation where we really have to say something in opposition to them because it causes direct harm or it goes against God’s truth? Like a repeatedly defiant child, a verbally abusive colleague, a taunting non-believing family member and such? 1 Peter 3:14 says, “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Brothers and sisters, you may not be able to keep people from slandering or saying something offending to you, but God also does not call us to cower and remain silent on everything. As we face the Lord to react to certain unpleasant exchanges with others, let it be done with our hearts upright in the truth we have learned, not with a moment of impulsive emotions. We cannot control another person but we can at least stop supplying them and ourselves with the “ammunition” of further damage. As long as we do what is right before God, their accusations will be empty and will work against them. So keep our spiritual conduct above criticism. Fight, flight, freeze or make peace? May we learn the joy and blessings of choosing to react in the fourth option. God bless.

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Miki Terayama
miki.terayama@gmail.com

Miki is a full-time ministry staff at The Blessed Run Ministries. She is a sister who shares a natural, God-given affinity with children and youths. She is married to Randy (NET Group Youth Leader) and has two little ones of her own, Liora and Jude. She is involved in the children, youth and social media ministries.

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