"A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel." ~ Proverbs 15:18
We all deal with conflict. We can't escape it. Conflict arises in the workplace, within homes, churches – even the tightest relationships. How we deal with conflict, though, separates followers of Christ from the world.
Forgiveness should a hallmark of Christian testimony. While the world proclaims revenge, we are told to turn the other cheek. We are to be the salt and light of the earth, to be ambassadors of Christ, the Prince of Peace.
One way of dealing with conflict in a Godly way is to recognize a few of the types of people and actions that stir up conflict. Let's go to the book of Proverbs:
– Deceitful people (6:14)
– A liar (6:19)
– Someone who stirs up conflict in the community (6:19)
– Hatred (10:12)
– Perverse person (16:28)
– Gossip (16:28)
– Angry person (29:22)
In addition, 2 Corinthians 7:5 states that harassment is a method of conflict: "For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn — conflicts on the outside, fears within."
Jesus said that as His followers, we will experience persecution and conflict. "Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also," [John 15:20]. We should never be surprised at the conflicts and, indeed, persecution we receive from the world because of our Christian faith. We should expect it – and learn how to deal with it appropriately. Notice what Jesus said – "they will persecute you also," (emphasis added). Not may, not perhaps, but will.
So how do we deal with conflict in a Godly manner?
Jesus, our Author and Perfecter of our faith, instructs us through the Apostle Paul to "bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse," (Romans 12:14). He tells us to "not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good," (Romans 12:17-21).
We are called to love and pray for those in whom we have conflict. Matthew 5:44: "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
We all have things going on in our lives that affect us in some way. The person that is short with you and distracted -- whom you may think is the rudest person alive -- may have just learned she has to start chemo treatments. The person who just wants to eat at her desk and not in the company break room, whom you think is a snob -- maybe she's a single mom who never gets a moment's rest to herself at home. The man who is gruff and angry could be dealing with an unruly teenager at home. Now, the truth is, we all carry baggage. Should we hurl that baggage around to innocent people? No....but life happens.
Instead of making a big deal about conflict and bringing in bosses and supervisors, why not simply go to a co-worker, fellow church member, or family member and ask if there's anything they'd like to talk about? Tell them you're there for them, you're praying for them, and if there's anything you can do to lighten their load during this rough time, you're there?
This is a way to show Jesus to someone who is hurting. If the person is doing anything illegal on purpose, though, that's cause for alarm and to mention it to higher-ups. It only takes one careless and miss-managed incident to bring down an otherwise successful organization, company, or family.
Lastly, we must keep ourselves out of the fray and rise above the temptations of being Christian GrumpyPants. Romans 12:2 states, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
We are not to be patterned out of this world, but reflect Jesus in all situations. Even regarding dealing with conflict in a Godly manner.
Terrie Bentley McKee
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