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