BE A PEACEMAKER (Conflict Resolution 2)
Teaching children how to get along with each other can be one of the hardest parts of being a parent. The same can be said of pastors with people who are in conflict. Even in our own marriages and relationships with others, it can be difficult to end an argument. Often, we just stop fighting but nothing is settled and hard feelings remain. The next time something comes up, all the past hurt rushes to the surface and we are back where we were.
Just ignoring problems and pretending they don’t exist is no option. God says we are to “be at peace with all men” as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18). That means we are responsible to bring any conflict to an end, no matter if we started it or not. Initiating resolution is our second step in conflict management, after honestly confronting our own part in the situation. Even if we are totally innocent, we are still responsible to go to the offended person and bring healing: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15).
Jesus also said we must initiate reconciliation with someone who has something against us, even if we have done nothing to offend the person, before we can worship God. “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” (Matthew 5:23-24). Jesus makes it clear that we can’t be in right standing with God if there is someone not in right standing with us. Even if we haven’t done anything to cause the problem, we are still responsible to do all we can to end it (Galatians 6:1). Once we know about it, we have a duty to seek out the person and resolve the issue. We can’t avoid them, wait for them to come to us or expect them to apologize first. God calls us to initiate, to make the first move. That is true in marriage, in church and with everyone.
It takes humility and courage to seek to be reunited with someone who dislikes you. Apologizing is hard, especially when you aren’t sure what you have done wrong. Treat them as you want them to treat you.
If you are offended by someone, and it is a minor issue or something they may not even be aware of, then the issue is between you and God. Forgive them and move on, just as you would want someone to overlooks something minor you might not even have meant.
Before going to speak to a person, pray for God’s peace and guidance. It can be helpful to write out what you want to say so you know exactly how to word things. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Talk to them as you would want to be talked to were the roles reversed. “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Colossians 3:13).
Listen carefully and closely to the other person’s response. Don’t think of what you will say next, focus on putting yourself in their place and understanding them. You should be able to accurately summarize what they say before responding. If they apologize, forgive them unconditionally and never bring it up again. Always go by the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). Speak to others as you would want them to speak to you. Speak the truth, but do it in love (Ephesians 4:15). When the issue is resolved, forgive and forget. Never bring it up again, even in your own mind.
If the other person is in known sin follow Matthew 18:15-17. Go to them privately and express your concern (verse 15). If they don’t respond in a positive way, take one or two mature believers with you and speak to him again (verse 16). If there is still no repentance, make it known to the whole church so they can pray and encourage him to repent, and so they aren’t wrongly influenced by the person in sin. If that doesn’t bring repentance then treat him as an unbeliever so the Holy Spirit will bring conviction (verse 17).
Is there anyone who has anything against you? Have you done all you can to talk to him and bring about reconciliation?
Pray for the situation. Ask God to show you if there is anything more you can do to bring healing.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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