Not the Hill to Die On

July 29, 2020

It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News.Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. Philippians 1:15-18 NLT

One of our household urban legends surrounds one of my husband Charlie’s famous sayings. Whenever a fight was brewing, he would state, “This won’t be an issue if you don’t make it an issue.” As you can imagine, while raising three children we heard that admonition many times. As most of our pet phrases and actions do, it came back to bite him. I still laugh out loud when I am reminded. The children were bickering as siblings do in Charlie’s presence, and it was irritating him. When one of them cried, “OW!” with intensity, he lowered the paper he was reading in his easy chair and said with his own intensity, “Listen! Stop it right now! I have had enough!” Then he gave the paper a firm shake, raised it to eye level again, and began to read.

Jacob was about 4 years old with a lisp. Known to be shy, but not in this moment, in the ensuing silence, he walked over to his dad’s chair, put a little finger on the paper, and drew it down to look squarely in his father’s eyes. Then he quietly said, “It won’t be an ‘ithssue’ if you don’t make it an ‘ithssue.’” We all lost it. His point was well-taken. Whenever someone is taking advantage of you or speaking badly about you, you can be sure it will come to your attention. If you don’t see it on your own, someone will be sure to point it out. It happened to Paul. While he was wrongfully imprisoned, people informed him that people were taking advantage of his absence, were “stealing his flocks,” and were preaching from poor motives. Paul acknowledged the situation and didn’t live in denial or depression. He simply accepted it and saw the bigger purpose—his thought was, “Well, at least Christ is being preached. This is not worth making an issue out of. This is not a hill I’m going to die on.”

We die on hills of far less importance so often. Someone offends us, disagrees with us, does us wrong, and we want to handle it and see justice done. We see something we don’t like at church, work, the nation, and it becomes a cause that consumes us. We make it an issue, and die on that hill, often having other casualties accompany us. And it’s just not worth it. We ruin things that God would have straightened out had we let it be and trusted Him to settle the accounts at the right time. My mom was famous for saying, “Time and truth don’t always walk hand in hand, but they always end up at the same place.” Trust Him.

  • Think about the hills you are willing to die on. Will you be glad in a week? A year? Eternity? Choose well. You don’t have to handle everything. God will.