Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!” – 1 Kings 3:27 (NLT)
My younger brother and I had quite a few heated confrontations while growing up. Our clashes could last for days. But every day when dinner time rolled around, we had to at least stop yelling and adopt a civil tone with each other, because Mother would not countenance unbrotherly behavior at the dinner table.
The times when we allowed our anger at each other to outweigh our appetite for Mother’s good cooking were the times that we both had to forfeit a good meal. Wanton hostility between us would send both of us to bed hungry.
When two women argue over who is the rightful parent of a baby, it’s very difficult for the king to determine who’s telling the truth. The king decides that the truth cannot be found in the woman willing to destroy the child in order to prosecute her claim. The woman willing to sacrifice her claim in order to keep the child alive is the woman whose claim prevails.
Democracy is a give-and-take enterprise. Every eligible citizen has a vote and a voice, but none of us get everything we want in any given contest. In all our clashing, we must be mindful to know what we might forfeit with wanton hostility.
Winning our claims at the cost of losing democracy is a loss for everyone – because democracy gives even the losers the chance to live to fight another day.
Lord, help us to not allow our antagonisms to cause us to forfeit what you have prepared for us at the table of democracy. Amen.