Sometimes we hear the abrupt/curt statement: who are you?
Want an answer? You know at times (like always) we think: what should I do next, what will I eat, what should I do, do I really want to be here? Should I?
The deeper we ‘think’ about these issues/circumstances the clearer/more confused we are. Is anyone slighted? It is how at times I feel/think!
Key point! Share in His suffering. Are you accepted everywhere you go? Liked/respected/appreciated? Something is VERY wrong!
There are always two sides to a coin! If you say that two things are two sides of the same coin, you mean that they are different ways of looking at or dealing with the same situation.
What are these two sides?
God’s Word helps us handle conflict in a godly way so He can use it for good:
- Own it. If you’ve messed up, own it. Own it fully because the offense is against a Holy God—don’t explain it away. …
- Speak Truth. If you’ve been hurt, go to the person humbly and talk tothem. Listen to them. …
- Give grace. Be quick to forgive.
What do we learn from Jesus about how to resolve conflict, particularly between believers? We’re going to look at two passages of Jesus’ teachings. I want to read both of them, and then we’re going to make some observations about conflict resolution based on both passages. So please look upMatthew 5:23-25. Then, hold your thumb there and turn to Matthew 18:15.
[Read these two passages, one after another]
Jesus’ advice about conflict resolution in these passages can be boiled down to four simple principles that I am convinced would help resolve 99 percent of the conflicts you are experiencing with other people. They are so short and simple we can say them out loud. Ready? Repeat after me:
- Face to face
- One on one
- Get help
1. Do it quickly (Matthew 5:23-25)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned that a believer who harbored anger against a brother or sister was just as guilty in God’s eyes as a murderer. Since that is how God sees your anger, how important is it to get rid of it quickly? And I know that is hard for a lot of people. When someone has wronged you, you have a right to be angry, don’t you? There are those of us who have held on to anger and resentment for so long that we literally do not know who we would be or what we would talk about if we didn’t have that hurt to define us.
I also realize that there are some of you with some very painful backgrounds. I don’t want to minimize the pain you have experienced in abusive relationships. What Jesus calls for in this passage is not easy, and may require professional help to accomplish. But Jesus is clear. Conflict needs to be handled quickly. In verses 23-24, He even implies that settling conflict is even more important than worship – to the point that if you are in the middle of a worship service, and you remember that your brother has something against you, you need to leave the worship service, be reconciled to your brother, and then come back to worship. Could it be that God won’t even accept our worship until we make things right with our brothers and sisters? That’s what this passage seems to be saying, and passages such as 1 John 4:20 back it up: “If anyone says, ‘I love God’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who hates his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
So, when you have an issue with another believer, deal with it quickly. How quick is quick? Ephesians 4:26 says not to let the sun go down on your anger.
II. Face to face (Matthew 18:15)
Notice we did not say “Facebook to Facebook” Face to face communication gets harder everyday. Our society is moving further and further away from face to face communication. That used to be the only option. Then came the invention of handwriting, and you could write a letter to someone. After that came the telephone. Followed by email. Then texting. Now, if you are mad at someone, you can just Tweet about it, and the whole world knows. But this is not the wayJesus taught. There is value in face to face confrontation. It is very hard to communicate emotion in an email or a text, and so it’s very easy to misunderstand someone else. And while firing off an angry email gives you a chance to vent or get something off your chest, it does nothing for the other person.
III. One on one (Matthew 18:15)
Pay attention to the second part of Matthew 18:15: “just between the two of you.” Now right away, I may have just identified a sin your small group or your accountability partner has been helping you commit for years. Raise your hands if you have ever talked about someone before you talked to someone. Come on. Let’s have some mutual accountability here. We’ve all done it. And if we are really spiritual, we’ve made it into a prayer request: “I need you guys to pray for my relationship with Bob. He is being such a jerk . . .” No matter how we dress it up and spiritualize it, it is wrong to talk about someone before you talk to someone.
The one exception to this rule is when you talk to God about the conflict you are having. This isa necessary step. Pray about the conflict you are having before you address it with the other person. But go into prayer humbly. Ask God to show you where you are wrong. Ask for wisdom to help you identify the parts of the conflict that you own, and work on those things before you talk to the person. I know of one marriage counselor who always applied what he called the “ten percent rule” when couples came to him for counseling. He would try to get each spouse to take responsibility for ten percent of a problem. Most reasonable people would be willing to own ten percent, right? So this counselor would tell each spouse to work on their ten percent before the next session. The logic was that the next time they met, the problem would be 20 percent solved.
So in a nutshell, talk to God about the other person before you talk to the other person. Talk to the other person before you talk to others about the other person.