Conflict can be brutal. What kind of fights do we face? Fights at work, with your spouse, with your kids, with a boyfriend or girlfriend, with a neighbor, a brother or sister, believe it or not, even at church! Everywhere you look, people are fighting. There is racial, political, and cultural conflict! There is conflict on social media! There’s conflict in the news and the media every day!
How do you view conflict? Is it bad? Can it be good? Can it be helpful? Yes, it can! Have you ever heard, “a broken bone grows back stronger?” There’s actually a period during healing when your broken bone is stronger than it was before. And your relationships can be stronger on the other side of conflict, but only if you know how to handle conflict in the right way.
Conflict resolution is one of the most important life skills you can ever learn. If you don’t know how to deal with conflict, you’re going to have a lot of broken relationships and end up feeling terrible. You can have money, good looking, successful, talented, and you will be miserable if your relationships are messed up.
I never had a class to teach me this until I was at the doctorate level. But, you can learn seven biblical steps to resolve conflict right now. If you follow these steps, your life and your friendships will change for the better.
Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18
4 Destructive Results of Unresolved Conflict
It hurts my relationship with God.
The person who says I love God and hates his neighbor is a liar. 1 John 4:20
“Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31
It hinders my prayers.
It halts my happiness.
It holds back my witness.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
7 Biblical Steps to Work It Out
1. Make the First Move.
- Face your Fear of Conflict.
“I heard you in the garden; and I was afraid because I was naked, and so I hid.” Genesis 3:10
Conflict makes me distant, defensive, and demanding.
“God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power and love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
- Timing is the Key.
“If you’re standing before the altar in the temple and you suddenly remember that somebody has something against you, you leave your offering there beside the altar. Go at once and first be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your gift to God.” Matthew 5:22-23
- Plan a Meeting.
–Choose the right time and place.
–Pray before the meeting.
–Have a positive attitude.
2. Take responsibility for my part.
“Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye?… First, take the log out of your own eye. Then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:3, 5 (NCV)
3. Listen for the hurt.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19
4. Put yourself in their shoes.
Each of you should look not only for your own interests, but also the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:4-5
God, you notice everything I do. And you know everywhere I go. Psalm 139:3
5. Tell the truth in a loving way.
Speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
People grow faster and change easier when you wrap the truth in love.
Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed. Ephesians 4:29
6. Fix the problem, not the blame.
You must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8
Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Romans 14:13
7. Aim for reconciliation.
It’s always better to resolve the conflict than to dissolve the relationship.
You can’t make peace with other people until you make peace with God first. That’s part of the problem. You’re not at peace with yourself because you’re not at peace with God. It starts today by making peace with God, then you can make peace with other people.
There is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 2:5
That’s where it starts. First, you need to get His peace in your heart. You’ve got to get the Prince of Peace inside of you.
Questions to Consider
Why is noticing your own big piece of wood over the little piece of dust in your neighbor’s eye a main step in resolving conflict?
When you’re in conflict with someone, how can starting with their needs lead to faster conflict resolution? What impact would it have on our “me-first” culture if Christians listened to and considered others’ hurt before speaking or acting?
Think of your relationships. When do you tend to blame others instead of fixing the problem? How can remembering, “little people belittle others,” help avoid assigning blame instead of resolving the crisis?
Reconciliation means reestablishing the relationship, while resolution means to resolve every issue. What are some steps our group can take to be peacemakers?
Your call to follow Jesus is also a call to peace following the biblical seven-step model to resolve conflicts rather than dissolving the relationship. What are some ways you’ve made peace with others, including some practical steps you took to move away from conflict?
The perfect love of Christ can give you the courage to overcome fear so you can resolve conflict. How can praying, “Give me love for this person,” help you make the first move?