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Conquer Your Conflicts

“What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1-3. 

So, a disagreement occurs between you and another church member. Attempts to straighten out the problem fail.  The matter grows to mountainous proportions in your mind. You develop a toxic attitude that transfers to the entire church: “If you have a certain name, you can get by. If you are talented, your faults are overlooked.  No one really cares about your feelings. The other person continues to be accepted by the church without correction or resolution of the problem.”  Eventually, you rationalize yourself out of fellowship. Fighting like this impairs spiritual judgment and the combatants often pass the quarrel down to the next generation.  

Conflicts begin with unkind remarks, rivalry, competition, prejudicial treatment, failed commitments, injured feelings, obnoxious behavior and carelessness and other matters.  Simple misunderstandings, however, are to blame for much strife.  Regardless of how they start, strife between brothers and sisters in the church pose extreme danger to all.  “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” James 3:14-16.  It doesn’t end well.  “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” Galatians 5:14-15. It’s time to do something about it.

Conflict resolution starts at home.  Look for the source of the problem within your own heart first. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9-10.  Failure to judge yourself and the quick propensity to blame the other party shows up your own arrogance and pride.  “You, then, why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you look down on your brother?  For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:  “As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12.  In the general population, conflict management often follows these strategies: 

  • Avoidance.   Pretending it doesn’t exist.  This only makes things worse.
  • Giving In.  This may suspend the conflict, but often leads to resentment.
  • Stand your Ground.  This entrenches the battle lines but prolongs peace.
  • Compromise.  This indicates progress but could also mislead.  Beware!
  • Collaboration.  Creative problem solving without concessions.

Here is the Christ way: 

  1. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
  2. “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
  3. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”  Matthew 18:15-17. 

The absolute best thing for you is to be a peacemaker“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9. Bring your spirit under control.  When you yield to anger or frustration, no matter how justified you may feel, you only exacerbate the conflict. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32 

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