“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” – 2 Corinthians 5:-18-19.
Conflict in marriage. Those times when we were at odds with our spouse, when we simply couldn’t see eye to eye. When we weren’t on the same page. When he or she made your blood boil. Take two, imperfect, human beings that are filled with sin, put them under the same roof and conflict will be a byproduct one time or another, to some degree or another. But while some conflict may be unavoidable, no one wants a marriage filled with conflict. So, the question becomes “how can I best manage conflicts when they arise?”
The tension that comes from conflict can be healthy and beneficial to growth if dealt with correctly. Look at Jesus. When Jesus addressed problems, He tackled them head-on. While delivering the Sermon on the Mount (and later in Matthew 18) he dealt with the issue of conflicts brought about either by others offending us or by our offending them:
In Matthew 5:23-24: “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
While Jesus was addressing the problem of sin, there were broader principles at work in His teaching. No matter who caused the problem, the solution is the same: First, go to the person with whom you are experiencing a conflict and address the issues face-to-face. I’m not suggesting this is easy. In fact, often the last person we want to talk to is the one we are in conflict with.
But that is what the Lord expects us to do, and to do so quickly. Jesus counseled that, if someone is worshiping God and remembers that he or she has offended someone, the appropriate response is to stop right there and go immediately to the offended individual. With those words, Jesus made it clear that healthy relationships are more important than correct ritual. That is because our relationship with God is better gauged by our human relationships than by religious ritual.
Jesus’ advice is to take the initiative. When you have done something wrong, you go and make it right. When someone else has wronged you, you still take the first step. Jesus is not asking us to do anything He hasn’t modeled for us. He gave up heaven to come down to earth, become a servant and died to repair our broken relationship with the Father. In Jesus Christ, God takes the initiative. When we come to see how important people are to God, we will take the initiative in resolving relational breakdowns.
- Conflict between people is natural. How can we glorify God in conflict? How does unresolved conflict affect your relationship with God?
- How can I show Jesus at work in me by taking responsibility for my part in the conflict?
- What can I do to minimize conflict in my marriage?