How do you deal with conflict?

When I was in high school, I was really hurt in a dating relationship.  Out of my hurt, I would say unkind things about her to other people.  God showed me that what I was doing grieved His heart and that I was never justified in slandering another person regardless of how hurt I was.  By the grace of God, I went to her and asked for her forgiveness. She forgave me and our friendship after a couple years even came to the place where we prayed for each other’s future spouses believing in God’s best for each other.  It was a powerful testimony to God’s desire and purpose to set His children free from bitterness.
 
I once heard a saying that changed the words of Jesus to, “For where two or three have gathered together, there will be conflict!” If we read Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus does promise to be present to people willing to work through conflict. It is interesting that the verses prior to this passage is the parable of the “Lost Sheep” and the verses following this passage is Jesus saying to forgive seventy times seven.  All three sections are basically about the healing of brokenness in relationships.
 
Wherever there is conflict, typically you will find some level of anger involved at some point. Anger in and of itself is not bad.  A person once made the astute observation that, “Anger reveals to us what we really care about.” We should take time to understand what is at the bottom of our anger and what we truly care about.  James 1:19-20 “Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.” We always want to direct our anger in ways that lead to the pursuit of healthy relationships.
 
Conflict is part of relationships for all of us and many times we resort to passive-aggressive behavior. Passive behavior manifests in a fear for conflict, thus one seeks to avoid it at all cost.  This is not healthy.  Aggression manifests in stuffing the frustration and anger until it eventually spews out in harsh words or actions. This is not healthy.  Passive-Aggressive behavior can never foster healthy communication or relationships.
 
So what is the alternative? God encourages us to pursue the healing of broken relationships.  Restoration is not always possible simply because it involves the wills of two people and/or is not safe to do so.  However, we are to be “peacemakers” when possible through honest communication that neither tries to pin the other person to the wall, nor dismiss the wounds felt. God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation according to  2 Cor. 5:17-21,
Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others. What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace.  We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.

Being peacemakers is a way of life for us as His children and we must decide not to allow our pride, possessions, or anything else to come between us and others.  Is conflict easy? No! Are people worth the time and energy to pursue restoration? Yes!  May the Grace of God manifest in our relationships and may we reflect Romans 12:14-18,

Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people. Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone.

One Comment

  1. Thank yoooouuuu sooooo much Pastor Jeremy for your excellent, keen, practical, tactical, and Righteously radical message for our lives when faced with conflict. I found pockets of the your content so powerful that I just wanted to stop and savor on that awhile. You provide heavy doses of fix-its and faith-fills for us readers, believers, and needers of people who find ourselves in seemingly unbearable relational conflicts. You helped sit us down, teach us, and then ministered to us to turn our relationships around by the Truth of The Word and Jesus Christ reconciling purpose and power. I can not say this enough…, my joy to partner with someone who seeks forgiveness for ppl in faith and grace.

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