Peacemaking

As we think about about resolving conflicts between believers let us meditate on the following verses which speak for themselves:

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.
— Proverbs 12:20
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
— Romans 12:17-19
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
— Romans 14:19
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
— Ephesians 4:1-3
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
— Hebrews 12:14
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
— James 3:13-18
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
— James 4:1
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
— 2 Peter 3:14

A group of Professional Christian Mediators (Ken Sande and Mary Yerkes of Focus on the Family) outlines the following steps as an application of the biblical principles:

  • Define the problem and stick to the issue. Clearly define the issue and stay on topic during the discussion. Conflict deteriorates when the issue that started the conflict gets lost in angry words, past issues, or hurts tossed into the mix.
  • Pursue purity of heart. "Take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matt. 7:5 NASB). Before approaching others regarding their faults and shortcomings, prayerfully face up to your own. Confess any way you might have contributed to the problem.
  • Plan a time for the discussion. Plan a time to meet with the other person when you are both rested and likely to respond in love to the other person's concerns. When you are tired, stressed, and distracted with other responsibilities, things rarely will go well.
  • Affirm the Relationship. Affirm the relationship before clearly defining the problem. For example, "Our relationship is important to me. But when you don't return my calls, I feel rejected and unimportant." Avoid blaming the other person and saying, "You make me feel…" Instead, say, "When you do 'A', I feel 'B'."  "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9)
  • Listen carefully. Once you share your feelings, listen to the other person's perspective. Lean in; be present. "One of the most powerful communication techniques I know is to listen well," points out Sande. Make sure your body language conveys that you are open to the other's perspective. Reflect back to the individual what you believe you have heard. For example, "I heard you say that you feel expectations from me. Is that correct?"
  • Forgive. Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. "Forgiveness is both an event and a process," Ken Sande says. He suggests you make forgiveness concrete with four promises:
    • I promise I won't bring this up and use it against you in the future.
    • I promise I'm not going to dwell on it in my own heart and mind.
    • I'm not going to talk to other people about it.
    • I'm not going to let it stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.
  • Propose a solution. Remember the relationship is more important than the issue. When working toward a solution, consider Philippians 2:4-5: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Seek solutions that keep everyone's best interests in mind.

There are a million and one ways to work out the path of love and peace.  The Holy Spirit will give you many creative ways to do that, and you know what? Sometimes you have to just drop it…”Love covers a multitude of sins.” You must rise above your baser instincts and go not just to the level of human reason and kindness but the Gospel level of unconditional forgiveness and love, which begins with repentance in your own heart! The Lord Jesus cried out from the cross, Father forgive them, and Paul said it was better to lose the argument and not get your way than to go to court with another believer (civil disputes not criminal). Peace is not a luxury, it is a necessity in our churches as we grow, but on the positive side, when we are mature in our faith we will be able to use conflict as a means of growth in our relationships, because when you can disagree with another Christian and yet still love them and be at peace with them, that is an essential mark of a mature, gospel-centered life!

In Prayer Today:

Praise God that he has made the way of peace open to us through the salvation and grace that the Prince of Peace brings to us!