We all have those times in our lives when we do not get along with someone else. Those times come as early as preschool and last up until death. Some conflicts can get quite intense and others are simply disagreements that we must learn to deal with.
The Bible provides great principles for helping us deal with conflict. These principles are also needed in teaching our children how to deal with conflict.
I am amazed at times when folks tell me about “irreconcilable differences.” I go on to tell them that there is no such thing because the greatest irreconcilable difference that ever existed was between God and man but God sent His Son Jesus to bridge that gap. Therefore, there are no irreconcilable differences only stubborn, unforgiving people.
So how can we deal with conflict Biblically? First, we need to learn the Matthew 18 principle for resolving conflict. Matthew 18:15-16 advises us:
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.”
These verses teach us that our first action in a conflict is to approach the other person involved to resolve the conflict. We should go to them in love first and not go to others. We should not post on social media how we have been offended but go directly to the source in love.
The verses also give us direction if that does not work. It directs us then to ask a Godly person or two to join us in going back to the other party to work towards resolution. The caution I would share here is to not make a small dispute into something bigger than it needs to be.
Another principle that is important to remember is to be kind and forgiving remembering that God forgives you. Ephesians 4:32 instructs us to: “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
We should be quick to apologize for any role we may have in the dispute. Not only should we apologize but we should also be quick to forgive and forget and not to hold grudges. Mark 11:25 is a key principle to teach: “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Finally, we also should remember that there will be conflicts that some folks will just not want to resolve. We should forgive them anyways and still be kind. This is indeed how the Lord would have us deal with conflict.
“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.” Joni Eareckson Tada
We have all heard the expression “perception is reality.” What it means is that for others, be they your peers, subordinates, or superiors, how they perceive something or somebody is reality to them. We all face many challenges and struggles in this life that can discourage us and rob us of true joy. There are times it seems that such discouragement will overwhelm us completely. These type struggles are reality to us.
How can we gain a new perspective when we are faced with difficult times? I love the perspective of Joni Eareckson Tada above, a great Christian speaker and author, who suffered a life altering injury years ago, that left her as quadriplegic. What changed her perspective in how she sees life? The only way that Joni found the right perspective was in the person of Jesus Christ.
What about Corrie Ten Boom, a great Christian and author, who survived the Holocaust confined to a Nazi prison camp during World War II? Through all of that suffering she held onto a different perspective. She said: “With Jesus, even in our darkest moments the best remains and the very best is yet to be…”
What about our perspective? How are we dealing with the challenges of life? There are times that I honestly struggle with having the right perspective when trouble arises. The perspectives of Corrie Ten Boom and Joni Eareckson Tada have helped me a lot in these times.
However, my real source of strength for gaining a new perspective is found with great reminders from God’s Word. There are two great principles that I want to give you that I pray will help us change our perspective. Those principles are:
We need to stop focusing on the size of our problem and instead focus on how big our God is - Jesus told us in John 16:33: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus told us that we would face difficulties in this life but He assured us that He is bigger than anything we will ever face. There is nothing that He cannot overcome.
We must recognize that God does have better days ahead for us - “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
Paul reminds us that better days are not only ahead but also more than we could ever imagine! I pray that the truths of these passages will encourage us today to help gain the perspective God desires for us to have.