|Volume 25 Number 9 September 2023
The Island of Understanding
Located in the middle of a beautiful lake, in a valley deep in the Scottish highlands, is the Island of Understanding. The island is so named because local custom mandated that two parties in disagreement about a matter are to be taken to the island, given food and drink, and stranded until they can come to an understanding. The locals boast that, because of this custom, there has been only one murder in 1,500 years! What a great idea! How we sometimes need an “Island of Understanding”!
Husbands and wives need an island of understanding. When the inevitable disagreements and arguments come, they must be worked out. Avoiding difficult discussions and hoping that the problem will simply go away is rarely healthy for the relationship. Husbands are told to live with their wives “according to knowledge” (KJV) or “with understanding” (NKJV) (1 Peter 3:7), but how can either spouse have knowledge or understanding without communication and trying to come to an accord? Husbands and wives should always remember the three C’s.
Parents and children need an island of understanding. At its best, parenting is a difficult proposition. If we can recall with an accurate memory, all will agree that childhood and adolescence is no bed of roses either. Further, due to often tenuous relationships, many parents and children stop communicating (i.e., real communicating). Mom and Dad, if there is a problem, don’t let it fester. Instead, go to an island of understanding. Part of “bring them up in the… admonition of the Lord” (NKJV) and to “not provoke your children to anger” (ESV) (Ephesians 6:4) is resolving the conflicts that arise. Young people, instead of pouting or self-imposed banishment to your room, talk to Mom and Dad (the way you’d want them to talk to you) and try to work out your difficulty.
Brethren need an island of understanding. Jesus knew that simply being brethren would not always be enough to prevent disagreements and misunderstandings. So, He gave instructions in Matthew 5:23-24 and 18:15-17 for resolving conflict. Jesus taught that initially an individual ought to go to one’s brother alone and to try to rectify the problem. Yet, instead of obeying the command of our Lord, some brethren still think they can worship acceptably and be right with God while at odds with a brother. Therefore, instead of going to the island of understanding with one’s brother, they hurl insults from long distances or speak about their grievance to everyone but the brother with whom the disagreement exists. How shameful and sinful! Brethren, go to the island!
When we go to the island of understanding, let all that is said and done be governed by the words of Ephesians 4:31-32, which reads, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (NKJV). Harry Truman was right when he said, “When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint – understand what he is trying to do – nine times out of ten, he is trying to do right.”