When it comes to conflict in relationships, there are really only three kinds of people:
1. Peace-fakers – These are people whoavoid conflict or clam up trying to shove conflict under the rug out of fear.
2. Peace-breakers – These are people whoare prideful and power up. If they don’t get their way, they blow up, escalating conflict like gas on a flickering flame.
3. Peace-makers – These are those whosee conflict as an assignment, not an accident. They approach the problem with humility, reasonableness, and seeking wisdom from God. They do not intimidate, but they also do not hide. They expect conflict, embrace the opportunity to resolve things biblically, and have an urgency to keep unity in the midst of hard times.
Is there anyone in your life you are bitter toward or someone you have offended deeply? I want to challenge you to get your eyes off another’s sin and turn your focus inward with a vertical orientation. Sometimes the only way to heal what is sick or broken is to get to the source, to seek true healing or to go vertical.
Consider this passage which gets to the heart of the problem by answering our most profound questions;
1. Why do we fight anyway?
2. Why can’t we just get along?
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You, adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:1-12
What Can We Learn about Conflict from This Passage?
The Word of God presents some very clear reasons why we can’t seem to lay down our agendas or get along well with others who differ from us as follows;
- The enemy is within us:
We see early in this passage that conflict is internally motivated before being externally manifested. Your selfish passions are what you fight about most and even good desires have a way of morphing into demands!)
- It’s not just what we want, it’s how much we want it:
What are you coveting?
Fill in the blank below
“If I only had ___________, I would be happy?”
That is the beginning of constructing an idol.
Think about these four escalating steps of selfish desires:
a. I want it too much – It could be a good desire or an evil desire. The desire is not always sinful… God may still be in the picture, but the kingdoms begin to collide.
b. I need it now – The desire now owns you leading to sin because you are looking to someone or something to fulfill what only Christ can. You say to yourself… ‘God can’t meet this need or won’t… so I will do this or that).
C. I deserve it – The desire now controls you. Sinful entitlement creates murderous thoughts.
d. You will give it to me or I will punish you – The desire now betrays you. You even hurt those you love if your demands are not met and God is not even in the picture at this point.
Here are three more truths from this passage:
- We need to get our eyes on our own sin!
Why are you trying to change someone else? You say to yourself, “If she only would to this or that or…. if only he would quit doing this or that…. We need to get our eyes on our own sin.
- God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble:
Godly humility makes a world of difference. More reason why you need to repent, mourn, and stop contributing to the fight.
- Keep walking in repentance not judgment
Why has resentment or bitterness crept in and made you a judge not a keeper of the law?
But there is more grace! The second half of the chapter teaches us to truly repent and turn to the Lord so that we can be peace-makers in the situation we encounter. It gives us the way out the conflict and into the graces of God.
Seven Steps out of this selfish cycle of personal conflict:
- Submit to God
what are you holding away from Him?
- Resist the devil
what are you giving over to Him?
- Draw near to God
why are you hiding or running from Him?
- Cleanse your hands
what outward behavior needs to stop?
- Purify your heart
what inward attitude needs to change?
- Be wretched mourn and weep
where do people need to see godly sorrow?
- Humble yourself
where do you need to admit you’re wrong and ask forgiveness?
As we conclude, remember to always;
- RESOLVE CONFLICT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Ephesians 4:26b Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
- WHEN ANGERED, RESPOND IN LOVE
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
- USE ALL YOUR POWER, RESOURCES AND ABILITIES TO RESOLVE CONFLICT.
Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
- DESTROY ARCHIVES OF PAST MISDEEDS
1 Corinthians 13:5cLove does not keep a record of wrongs
- DON’T SET A HIGH PRICE FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS; YOU’RE NOT GOD
Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
- INCONVENIENCE YOURSELF FOR THE SAKE OF RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT
Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Never Forget that, those who are in Christ are called to be peace-makers. That requires for us to be intentional with how we deal with conflict.