On Faith column: Replace conflict with peaceOne of life’s great challenges is the inability to peacefully resolve conflicts.
By: Rev. Joseph R. Whiting, Grace Baptist Church, Two Harbors
One of life’s great challenges is the inability to peacefully resolve conflicts. We criticize others for their inability to deal with conflicts, yet we critics are sometimes no better at resolving our own conflicts. We withhold forgiveness, don’t listen, gossip, and slander. Even Bible-believing Christians sometimes struggle to achieve lasting peace. Conflict resolution is possible, but it takes firm resolve and dependence on God.
First, focus on your part in the conflict. This is the opposite of what you really want to do. You want to focus on the terrible things the other person did. Resist this. Go to God and honestly evaluate your relationship to Him. Is your heart right with Him? Have you trusted Him as your Lord and Savior? Is the Lord pleased with you right now? Only a true child of God will be able to respond to conflicts the way He prescribes.
Second, consider the possibility that your thinking is wrong. Is your view of the situation accurate? Are your feelings justified? In the biblical Book of Jonah, the prophet Jonah was angry with God withholding judgment from the wicked Ninevites when they repented. God asked Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah felt his anger was justified. But those feelings did not make him right. They only served to reveal pride in his heart. God wants you to recognize unbiblical, prideful thinking when you want to justify escaping the conflict. Your heart argues, “That person only cares about himself.”
But God says not to judge another’s motives (Matt 7:1). You argue, “I can’t deal with this. It’s too hard.” But God says you can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13). You think, “I just can’t take the pressure of trying to resolve this.” But God promises He won’t give you more than you can bear (I Cor. 10:13).
Third, replace your wrong thinking with biblical thinking. Sometimes this is simply a change of perspective. What is God trying to teach me in this conflict? James 1:2-3 teaches us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
Another way to think more biblically is to believe that God will help you through the conflict.
“He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (I Cor. 10:13). Believe that God has a purpose in this conflict. Philippians 1:6 teaches, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:28 teaches that “all things work together for the good of those who love him.”
You might also consider, “What can I do differently to resolve this conflict?” Philippians 2:3 admonishes us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Finally, ask, “How am I contributing to the problem?” Jesus asked, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3).
Sometimes all it takes is a good dose of biblical honesty and humility to overcome the challenges that conflicts bring. The next time you find yourself in the midst of conflict, hold your tongue, take a deep breath, ask God to help you think biblically, and refrain from any counter-attacks until you take a good, hard look at yourself.