Curse or Consecrate

by | Jul 7, 2024

Three months before graduating from law school, I decided I did not want to be a lawyer.

Two years of interning for a plaintiff’s attorney had shown me that the adversarial system brought out my worst characteristics: pride, aggressiveness and a compulsive desire to win arguments. Although many outstanding attorneys master these types of tendencies, I feared that if I spent my life practicing law, these qualities would grow even worse in me.

So there I was, about to obtain a degree I no longer wanted. The more I agonized over the situation, the more I looked at my law degree as a form of bondage … chains … a dead end. I grimly looked ahead to a career that held no promise of enjoyment or fulfillment.

Paul’s Choice

The Lord overturned this attitude one Sunday morning when my pastor preached from the book of Philippians … and changed the course of my life.

The apostle Paul wrote this epistle to the Philippians from prison. He had been placed in chains because of his determination to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:13-14).

As my pastor explained, there were only two ways that Paul could deal with the chains that bound him to his prison. He could either curse those chains, or he could consecrate them.

To consecrate something means to declare it sacred, to devote it irrevocably to the worship and service of God. Paul chose to consecrate his chains to Christ. Trusting that God was always working for his good (Phil. 1:18-21), Paul could sincerely pray, “This is your situation, my Lord. Show me how I can use it to please, serve and honor you.”

Paul’s choice to dedicate his situation to God contributed to a chain of events that turned the world upside down. It also protected Paul from self-pity and gave him such great freedom that he mentions “joy” or “rejoicing” fourteen times in this letter—which is written from prison!

My Choice

As I listened to that sermon, I realized that I had been cursing my law degree for months. I had been doubting God’s providence, grumbling in my spirit and looking for an avenue of escape.

After everyone left the worship service, I walked to the altar and knelt before the Lord. I confessed my sinful attitude and asked God to forgive me for the negative, unbelieving thoughts I had nurtured for months. Then I raised my hands and explicitly consecrated my law degree to him, promising to use my legal training to serve him and any clients he would bring to me.

When I left church, I felt a peace I’d not known for months. I sang with overflowing joy all the way home. Three hours later I received a phone call from Laury Eck, who was a complete stranger. He told me he worked for the Christian Legal Society and was flying to Missoula in two weeks to talk to some attorneys about Christian conciliation. I asked him two questions. “Where did you get my name, and what is this thing you call “Christian conciliation”?

He told me that he picked my name at random from a Christian Legal Society newsletter mailing list. Then he told me that Christian conciliation is a biblical form of mediation and arbitration designed to help Christians resolve legal disputes in the church instead of going to court, as God calls us to do in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.

As Laury talked, my heart leaped. Three hours after I consecrated my law degree to God, he gave me my life’s calling.

After clerking for a federal judge for one year, I helped to found the Christian Conciliation Service of Montana, which eventually grew into Peacemaker Ministries. I had the great privilege of serving that ministry for thirty years and seeing God use it to reconcile people around the globe. That experience prepared me to launch RW360 and its conciliation division, the Christian Conciliation Service, where I continue to experience the incredible joy of seeing God reconcile and transform relationships through the power of the gospel.

I have consecrated many other difficult issues to the Lord over the years, but have rarely seen him move to solve my dilemmas as swiftly as he did when I was questioning my law degree. Even so, I’ve always been blessed with a clear conscience and peace of mind when I committed difficult situations to him. And in case after case, I discovered that those “chains” were actually God’s way of restraining unwise or untimely decisions so I could eventually experience something better than I had planned.

What About You?

What kind of chains are you faced with today? A difficult marriage, rebellious teenager or a critical in-law? A job that seems to be going nowhere (or no job at all), or a co-worker who delights to irritate you? A prolonged illness or the unavoidable decline of aging?

Whatever your chains are, you have only two choices: you can either curse them or consecrate them to the Lord. May God give you the same grace he gave to Paul and to me, so that you, too, can say, “This is your situation, my Lord. Show me how I can use it to please, serve and honor you.”

– Ken Sande

To learn how you can study, practice and share relational wisdom, biblical peacemaking and Christian conciliation in your sphere of influence, click here.

Reflection Questions

  • Who provided the ultimate example of consecrating a difficult situation to the Lord? (Luke 22:42; Luke 23:46)
  • What kind of chains have you been feeling lately? How have you dealt with them?
  • What good has God accomplished by allowing his people to struggle and suffer at times? (Gen. 50:15-21; John 15:1-3; Rom. 5:1-5; 2 Cor. 1:3-5; 1 Pet. 2:18-21)
  • What would it look like, in practical terms, for you to consecrate your difficult situation to the Lord today?

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© 2024 Ken Sande

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