“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:24–25.
You know the feeling. Words are exchanged. Tempers flare. Suddenly, and unexpectantly, you find yourself in the middle of a confrontation. The question is not whether conflicts will come, but how we will handle them. It would seem that peacemakers would avoid conflicts, but avoiding conflict is not the answer because conflict typically worsens when you ignore them.
The highpoints of the history of God’s people are accounts not of fleeing conflict, but moving toward it in hope, believing God is at work. A few examples are Moses with the stubborn people he refused to give up on; Elijah at Carmel squaring off against Baal; Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel brought into increasing conflict with hard-hearted people they were commissioned to serve. And of course, our most compelling example of not shying away from conflict, but turning to take it head-on, is Jesus. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:2)
The trajectory of Jesus’s life was toward need, and inevitably toward conflict, not away. He set His face like flint to go to the cross and rescue us from our greatest conflict, eternal separation from God because of sin. Handling conflicts provide Christians an opportunity to demonstrate grace. This is one of the ways that God works in a world like ours. Which doesn’t mean we become headstrong and combative. Rather, as peacemakers, we should conduct ourselves with kindness, patience, and gentleness.
Be a determined peacemaker (Matthew 5:9) and allow the words of Paul to be the compass in the middle of the storm: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful…And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:12-15, 17).
- How do you handle conflict?
- What can we do this week to reflect God in the midst of confrontation?