Benjamin Franklin is known for famously saying, “but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” To that we can add conflict.
Conflict is inevitable. Whenever people are involved, there will be conflict. Normal relationships, even healthy relationships, encounter conflict occasionally. That is true whether the relationship involves family members, friends or co-workers; and even within the church. We are often surprised when conflict develops among believers, but because a church is made up of people, conflict is inevitable at times.
Conflict is never fun, and it never gets easier no matter how much practice we get at trying. No relationship is immune. We are afraid to confront our mother-in-law about undermining discipline with our kids. Or we think it would weird to tell our brother about drinking less. Or it is potentially damaging to tell the boss you don’t approve of his lack of ethics. Resolving conflict can harm relationships. Fortunately, we have a guidebook, a set of guardrails, a source of solutions and wisdom, and a general guide for life’s journey; the Bible. Here are a few verses that speak to the subject of conflict:
You are more willing to listen to them than speak to them. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”– James 1:19
You regularly pray for them. “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 1:4
Your speech builds them up. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29
You quickly repent when you are harsh to them – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1
You are quick to guard your tongue so you do not hurt them. “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” – Psalm 141:3
You speak wisdom to them so you can serve them. “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.” – Proverbs 16:23
You are selective in your speech so you do not sin against them. “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” – Proverbs 10:19
You carry them in your heart. “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Conflict is a part of relationships. The more intentional we are at allowing conflict to promote and maintain healthy relationships, the greater our success will be in dealing with conflict. Rather than viewing all conflict as a painful part of life, let’s begin to see it as God building stronger, God-honoring relationships.
1. How would you rate your ability to handle conflict? What is your biggest weakness?
2. What is ultimately the root cause of conflict?
3. What differentiates biblical conflict resolution from worldly conflict resolution?
4. So how should Christians respond to conflict? Why?
5. Which of the above verses would help you most in resolving conflict today?
6. Pray and ask God to give you the wisdom to deal with conflict.