What do you do when you are in the middle of conflict? It is natural to be overcome by the big problems and lose sight of the big God. Actually, your big God completely engulfs any of your problems. God would tell you to do three things when in the middle of conflict. And let me acknowledge that I am utilizing helpful thoughts and structure by a Christian brother named Ken Sande who lives in Billings, Montana. All Bible references are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV).
1. First of all, trust God
God is sovereign.
Scripture reminds us over and over again, “The LORD shall reign.” – Exodus 15:18. Indeed, our God does reign.
Over nations. Over cities. Over Idaho Falls. Over churches. Over marriages. Over every individual life in this room. “Every conflict that comes into our lives has somehow been ordained by God. Knowing that he has personally tailored the events of our lives and is looking out for us at every moment should dramatically affect the way we respond to conflict.” – Sande
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” – I Timothy 1:17
God is good. (Yes, all the time, God is good)
“God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God. Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; for You render to each one according to his work.” – Psalm 62:11-12
“The more confidence we have that God is both sovereign and good, the meeker we can be. Meekness is an attitude toward God that causes us to accept all his dealings with us as being good, and thus to accept them without resistance or resentment (Rom. 8:28). A meek person is content and thankful no matter what his circumstances (Phil. 4:12-13), because he sees that God has already given him everything he needs in Christ (Matt. 5:5; Romans 8:31-32). Thus, instead of thinking, “I’m missing out; it’s not fair,” a meek person thinks about and gives thanks for God’s goodness, mercy, power, and provision (Acts 4:23-31; 5:40-42; 7:59-60; John 18:11). Meekness has nothing to do with weakness, for both Moses and Jesus are described in the Bible as being meek (Num. 12:3; Matt. 11:29). In fact, meekness has sometimes been referred to as “power under control.” This quality is highly commended throughout Scripture (Ps. 37:11; Matt. 5:5). Meekness has a direct impact on our dealings with other people, especially in the midst of conflict. Knowing that God works for good in all things, a meek person is able to endure mistreatment from others with patience and without resentment or bitterness. Because this attitude does not come to us naturally, we need to pray that the Holy Spirit will work steadily to help us to become meek.” – Sande
What thoughts have you been thinking about God throughout this past week? Certainly, what you are thinking about God has direct bearing on your horizontal relationships with one another.
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2
I would encourage you to wake up each morning and meditate on the attributes of God; likewise, when you go to bed at night.
2. Secondly, seek ways in how you can glorify God
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” – I Corinthians 10:31-11:1
How can you honor and please the Lord in the middle of conflict? How can you glorify God? Rather than being continually upset or fearful by what you think is going down in the conflict, seek how you can grow and glorify God in the midst of the conflict. This is the whole purpose for why God is allowing it. Your good and His glory.
As other people watch you in conflict, what fruit of the Spirit do they see? “And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.” – I Corinthians 4:12-13.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23
“That the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience . . . the older women . . . reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things . . . young women . . . to love . . . discreet, chaste . . . young men . . . sober-minded . . . sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” – Titus 2:2-8
3. Third, be a peacemaker
Think about what your natural tendencies might be in conflict. To escape from others? To leave them? Or to fight others? And to shut them down? Both responses add more hurt. In one verse, we see both of these natural responses in chosen Abram’s family: “And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.” – Genesis 16:6. An escape or fight response usually ends in KYRG: Kiss your relationship goodbye. Thankfully, God stepped into the middle of this.
Now there are instances where you might need to step down or step aside to give God time to work in your heart. To calm down. To pray. To rest. To let God redirect your thoughts. I can understand this. And also, flight is good when one’s physical life is in grave danger. But here is the Lord’s way. Don’t permanently leave your marriage, your family, your brother or sister, or your church family. Let God do His ongoing work in you and those around you.
In the midst of the conflict, commit yourself to resist fleeing or fighting. Resolve in your heart to do this – what God desires of every one of you. Be a peacemaker. “Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . those who mourn . . . the meek . . . those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . the merciful . . . the pure in heart . . . Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” – Matthew 5:3-9
Seek to be a fulfillment of your Lord’s prayer for you.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” – John 17:20-23
“As death drew near, the Lord focused on a single concept he knew to be of paramount importance for all those who would believe in him. He did not pray that his followers would always be happy, that they would suffer, or that their rights would always be defended. Jesus prayed that his followers would get along with one another. This was so important to him that he tied his reputation and the credibility of his message to how well his followers would display unity and oneness. Read his prayer once more and think about how important unity is to him. Is it equally important to you?” – Sande
“Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 15:5-7
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” – I Corinthians 1:10
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3
Endeavoring – “The Greek word that is translated “make every effort” in this passage means to strive eagerly, earnestly, and diligently. It is a word that a trainer of gladiators might have used when he sent men to fight to the death in the Coliseum: “Make every effort to stay alive today!” So too must a Christian agonize for peace and unity. Obviously, token efforts and halfhearted attempts at reconciliation fall far short of what Paul had in mind.” – Sande
“Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” – James 3:18
In conflict, we are to (1) trust God, (2) glorify God, and (3) be peacemakers.
Now, the Bible does give us a plan (a path of clear steps) in how to go about resolving conflict and seeking gospel grace reconciliation. In this sermon series, we are going to look carefully at the gradual increase of steps of a clear gospel plan that God has laid out in His Word. In this message, we only have time for considering step one.
Step One – Ask yourself some questions in light of these verses. How big should this issue be to me personally? Could I just put the issue that I have with my brother or sister and my personal hurt over this before the cross of Jesus? Do I need to even talk to the one I feel hurt with about this? Sometimes, in our hurt, we make things that are small very big. And then we enlist others to join in on our hurt. Maturity comes by how we can overlook personal offenses against us.
- “Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm” (Proverbs 3:30).
- “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12).
- “A fool’s wrath is known at once, but a prudent man covers shame” (Proverbs 12:16).
- “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
- “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts” (Proverbs 17:14).
- “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11).
- “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears” (Proverbs 26:17).
- “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
- “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things” (Romans 14:1).
- “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (I Corinthians 13:4-7).
- “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
- “Bearing with another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:13).
- “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (I Peter 4:8-9).
If you are short-suffering with another person, how do you think that other person will naturally respond back toward you? Why are you so short-suffering with that other person? Is God that way with you? Look at what you have thought wrong or said wrong this past week. Look at what you did that you shouldn’t have done or at what you should have done that you did not do. Did you repent over every sin that you committed this past week? If you haven’t repented over every offense this past week that you have committed, what has God done with those sins? I will tell you. It is His love that covers the multitude of your sins. Such glory. Such love that pours from the heart of our Father. And it is up to you through the presence of Christ in your life to respond the same way to one another.