One word was all it took for your insides to turn to fire. Your face became hard, jaw clenched, your eyes narrowed as anger flooded your veins. Or maybe that’s never happened to you. I’m guessing if you have other people in your life that at some point they have made you angry, and vice versa. Today we begin to dive into the messy beast we call conflict.
Conflict is unavoidable, yet we are NOT naturally skilled at handling conflict. We are naturally stubborn, and unyielding in our desire to have our way. The problem in most conflicts is that we each want to be right, but instead of acknowledging that, we tear into the other person and sink another ship. We should engage in conflict with the intention of living at peace, rather than winning. Even though we might disagree, we must put people over our preferences. We must forgive, not because they deserve it, but because it is good for us.
We need each other. We need strong, non-superficial relationships. If we want those relationships, we MUST learn how to handle conflict. It doesn’t have to destroy relationships, but if we let anger drive us that is exactly what will happen. In my experience, there are three typical and unhealthy responses to this kind of anger and conflict.
Instead of engaging in conflict, some people simply ignore it and pretend as if it never happened. This can leave the other person a bit confused, and hurt. Feeling as if you don’t care. The biggest problem is that ignoring a conflict will never resolve it. It will just stay buried under the surface until the next conflict arises and is even more volatile due to unresolved past conflict.
When some get angry, they withdraw. They completely pull away from the source of anger. In their mind, they are protecting themselves, but ultimately they hurt themselves in two key ways. 1.) Anger doesn’t go away just because you walk away. It is still there and will rise again the moment a similar situation happens in another friendship. 2.) They are losing a potentially valuable relationship, more if it becomes a pattern.
This is the most obvious response to conflict. When someone makes us angry, we go on the offensive. Some directly go at their perceived opponent in heated debate. Some are more subtle, talking behind their back, spreading rumors, trying to pull others onto their side. A relational war often ends in tears and ship that is damaged beyond repair.
There is, of course, another approach to healthy conflict. A Biblical approach. We will talk about it tomorrow.
THINK ABOUT THIS:
- When conflict comes, how do you typically approach it?
- How do you think conflict would change if we put other people over our desire to be right?
PRAY: God, help me to learn how to handle conflict in a way that honors You and doesn’t result in losing friendships.
Luke 17:1 (NKJV) Then He [Jesus] said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
Romans 12:18 (NIV) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:9-21 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the Lord.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
2 Timothy 2:20-26 (NLT) In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.