Biblical action steps can be difficult to discern when in the midst of a conflict. Let’s examine examples of Biblical conflict resolution activities to help guide us in our relationships.
If you’re just joining me, I’d encourage you to read part 1 in this series where we look at the problem and first steps towards a solution.
My goal in this series is to provide you with Biblical perspective and examples of conflict resolution. Your responsibility is to dive into the Word and, as you grow in maturity and understanding of God’s view of this issue, to figure out how to take action in your own life.
Everything we discuss from here on out will be counter-cultural. Where the world says to fight back, God says to humble ourselves. Where the world screams for justice, God teaches forgiveness. Where the world points fingers, God says to examine ourselves before judging our brother.
So, if you’re ready, let’s talk about God’s expectations for us.
God’s Word tells us that He expects several things from us in regards to conflict resolution: humility, forgiveness, love, and action. To start, let’s look at what we are supposed to do to be aligned with the fruits of the Spirit, which are a clear indicator of our level of spiritual maturity.
God commands us many times in the Bible to humble ourselves. Matthew 18:4 says, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” And in Matthew 23: 12 it says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Humility is a fruit of the Spirit, and one that can be so difficult to submit to. It’s opposite – pride – shows up in so many ways. Stubbornness, unwillingness to listen to others, lack of empathy, and even anger.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to conflict resolution is our pride. So it is no surprise that God keys-in on teaching us humility over and over.
Part of humbling ourselves involves self-reflection.
In Matthew 23:25-26 it says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
And again in Luke 6:42 it says,
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
Both of these passages command us to examine ourselves first. Are our intentions clean? Do our actions and words come from Godly motives?
Once we’ve taken the log out of our own eye, only then can we help our brother see the error or issue that has hurt us. This allows us to move forward towards forgiveness and reconciliation.
Now, I know that there are many times where a conflict is one-sided. Perhaps you were wronged unjustly and did nothing to deserve it. That certainly happens. However, God still calls us to humility and self-reflection in times where we’ve been sinned against.
Jesus is the perfect example of someone who has been wronged but was without fault. We will dive into the actions He took in a moment.
Forgiveness is one of those things that can be hard to grasp. So often we equate forgiveness with a feeling or emotion. However, forgiveness is actually an act of the will through the power of the Spirit. It is a choice.
Sometimes it isn’t even a reaction to someone asking to be forgiven, because there will be people who never ask. And, so it becomes an intentional action on our part because it is required of us.
God offers us forgiveness for every single wrong we commit. Every one. He holds nothing back, leaves no sin out, and offers it freely. And in Matthew 18 he commands us to do the same.
“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy seven times.’”Matthew 18:21-22
In so many situations, this seems like an impossibly tall order. However, He never asks us to do it alone. We have a bond in Christ and with the power of the Spirit we can move towards forgiveness. Even in situations where there is not reconciliation.
The two are not synonymous, but forgiveness is indeed something that needs to occur for reconciliation to be possible.
Biblical Examples of Conflict Resolution
Perhaps the most well known passage on conflict resolution is Matthew 18:15-21. God clearly lays out the steps to take to deal with someone who has sinned against you. These build upon each other and should be followed in order.
- Go alone and directly talk to the person.
- Go with 2-3 others if the issue isn’t resolved.
- Take it to the church (when dealing with a believer).
- Break away from the relationship.
This model is incredibly counter-cultural. Typically, our first reaction is to talk about the situation with other people. We do this to complain, vent, gain advocates, plea our case, and otherwise solidify our emotions towards hurt, betrayal or being wronged.
However, all that does is become a breeding ground for the conflict to fester and grow. If we use God’s “model”, then so many conflicts could be resolved on step number 1 if we just communicate directly.
As I dive deeper into this topic I have discovered that there is so much more to say! So rather than limit this series, I will be back again next week specifically looking at Jesus and real life examples of how He dealt with conflict.
See part three here.
I will also suggest more conflict resolution activities from the example that Jesus gives us.
I hope that today’s post has been helpful as we continue to work towards spiritual maturity and Biblical actions within conflict. Stay tuned for next week!
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