The old saying goes that “wherever you go, there you are.” Suppose you are inclined to have fun with people and find joy in your relationships; that is probably common in most of your relationships. The flipside can be that if you find contention everywhere you go, and disagreeable people seem to populate the area you find yourself in, perhaps you are the common denominator. In the Bible, a man named James wrote that wars and conflicts come from within us (James 1:13-15). “Wherever you go, there you are.”
God has allowed conflicts into our life… These conflicts are trials or tests of our constitution to see what we’re made of.
Disputes happen wherever humans gather. Even in Christian groups, conflict can/will arise. Why do disputes happen? How do we solve disputes in a way that will benefit all involved?
It is just a fact of life that human relationships will have conflict built in. Whether within ourselves (I want to do but I don’t), with God (I don’t want to humble myself, obey authority God has established), family (they never do _______ right…), in church (which bill should we pay first, what missions should we support), or in our community. The question is whether we can work through the conflict in a Godly way.
In the Bible, Paul says be angry (it’s OK to have feelings bubble up about relationships), but do not sin (do something you’ll have to ask forgiveness for later) (Ephesians 4:26).
Is God’s Word True?
First of all, as Christians, we need to believe that the Bible is God’s word. If the Bible is God’s word, then it carries all the power and weight that it declares about itself. Scripture declares that all scripture is good for doctrine (the teaching of God), reproofs (are we measuring up), corrections (what to do to correct course), and instruction (how we can make following Christ a habit).
If that is true that we need to examine ourselves to find whether we are aligning with the plumbline as Amos said (Amos 7:7-8). Isaiah said, ” I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place.” (Isaiah 28:17 ESV). In examining ourselves, here are a few tips straight from scripture.
God is in Charge
God has allowed conflicts into our life (1 Corinthians 10:13). These conflicts are trials or tests of our constitution to see what we’re made of. James says that wars & fighting come from within (James 4:1-2), and Jesus said that murder comes from within (Matthew 15:19). The Proverbs say that when the metal is heated, the dross (not valuable metal but garbage) comes to the top to be scraped off. When relationships become stressed and heated, we can be sure that there will be some dross that will rise to the top of our being. John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Are we going to permit God to scrape it off?
We must have the good sense to compare our response with God’s word, and if our response falls short, then confess, or in other words, tell God the truth about what we’re feeling about it and what we want to say about it, and then ask him to give us the good sense to change our mind about the way we’re going about resolving conflicts in our lives. That’s called repentance, in Christian speak. We change our minds about our actions and instead of doing them our way. We do it the way God says in his scriptures.
We, however, are instructed to discover their needs and wait for an opportunity to do good for them and with them…
How do We Get Ready?
So, what does God say about resolving conflicts? The first thing he says to do is to examine yourself (Galatians 6:1–10). Is what we’re being accused of true? Are we acting in the way God has directed? The second thing is to agree with God. If we are doing something against his will, then we need to agree with him that that is what we’re doing and it is not what he wants us to do. The question becomes whether we will insist on continuing down that path (away from the path he is directing) or whether we will change our minds and accept the way God is directing us.
When we say “repentance,” it is to say we now have the mind of Christ in us (Philippians 2:5) so that, truly, way down deep in our hearts (sub-conscience would be today’s way of saying heart— Down deep in our gut where we can’t control our responses), we change appropriately where we are completely convinced that God is right to the point where we humble ourselves to ask forgiveness from anyone we may have wronged as well as from the God we serve to maintain fellowship with our Father in heaven.
The Steps to Reconciliation (and Why)
Once that is accomplished, we can begin following the steps outlined by God in his scriptures to bring reconciliation into the relationships that he has allowed into our lives and into those we are having conflict with. It’s important to remember that God allows everything into our lives. We can see that in the first chapter of Job. God sets the parameters. He will not allow anything into our lives that we cannot handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). So how do we handle it?
We can remember that we’re going to have a carnal, fleshly, or natural response to provocation. So when we are accused of something, the first thing we want to do is defend ourselves. God wants us to examine ourselves. Jesus said, “remove the beam from your eye before attempting to remove the speck from your neighbors eye” (Matthew 7:5).
God says to remember we are all part of the body of Christ, and if he is for us, who can be against us?
To sum up, is what we’re being accused of true? If it is, we need to confess it, repent of it, and seek reconciliation from both the person who has accused you and God. Of course, God will forgive you if you are coming from a proper place of humility. Hopefully, your accuser will forgive you in the same way that God forgives you. If they do, and reconciliation happens, you can skip to the section “Working together in Christ” below. And make sure you praise the Lord for having created a stronger friendship in Christ. If, however, forgiveness is not extended, then follow the steps below to arrive to a Christ-honoring solution.
Oh No, The Opposition Prospers!
When the person who has opposed us meets with great success, we might be tempted to envy their prosperity. But, we are instructed to thank God for his great goodness and providence (Rom. 2:4).
If the person who is rubbing us the wrong way plots revenge against us and begins to gather forces to destroy us and our reputation, our natural response will be to gather forces on our side and to listen to all the bad things that they have done from people who are convinced they are just “helping” by sharing “delicious morsels” of destructive gossip. We might even be tempted to participate in destructive gossip.
We, however, are instructed to discover their needs and wait for an opportunity to do good for them and with them, if possible, for Christ’s sake (Galatians 6:1–10).
Ah Ha! We Have Seen It!
When those who oppose us suffer or fall into bad times, we are tempted to rejoice in their troubles and downfall (Prov. 24:17), but God says to meet his needs (Rom. 12:20-21) quickly.
Uh, No. I Have No Problems.
When those who would oppose us humble themselves and seek to make restitution, we are tempted to cover our sins and pretend we are perfect. Nonetheless, God says to remember we are all part of the body of Christ, and if he is for us, who can be against us?
Work together in Christ.
We are on the side of Christ. We are commanded to seek counsel from others in the body and work with all who are fellow conquerors through him that loves us (Romans 8:37).
TL:DR (Too Long: Didn’t Read)
The one takeaway from all this is that as we get closer to Jesus by following him in all things, we will notice the conflicts become less stressful (or more manageable) because we are assured that conflict is only the beginning of a great relationship! One reason, among many, is that most of the people who surround us are going the same way, and when we are all obeying Jesus, there is one mind, one fellowship, and one body.
This article is based on a presentation by Embassy Media at: https://embassymedia.com/media/session-01-how-trace-problems-root-causes/