“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.

Conflict is a part of life. There is simply no getting away from this fact. As a human being and as a member of a family, you can be sure that you’ll face relational conflicts. There is no practical way to totally eliminate disagreements or clashes of personality. 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 offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

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 correct interpersonal 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 value the community Christ’s death makes possible. We will value it enough to take the initiative in resolving relational breakdowns.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think Jesus said to be reconciled before worshipping?
  2. Conflict between people is natural. How can we glorify God in conflict?  How does unresolved conflict affect your relationship with God?
  3. How can I show Jesus at work in me by taking responsibility for my part in the conflict?
  4. How can I help others experience God’s grace by owning their part?
  5. How can I demonstrate the forgiveness of God and encourage restoration?