Your stomach is tied in knots. You can’t sleep at night because you keep replaying the words you exchanged with your spouse— or other family member, boss, or close friend. In this world, conflict with others is inevitable. Broken relationships from the conflict are not inevitable. God longs for us as believers to live in unity with one another and He provides guidance on how to achieve it.
Jesus’ prayer before He went to the cross included these words intended for us as well as His disciples, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power ofyour name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.’ John 17:11
Romans 12:18 gives this counsel, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
So how should you respond when conflict arises between you and others?
1) Ask God to give you His heart in the matter, and especially His heart of love for the other person(s) with whom you are in conflict.
2) Slam the door on Satan! Recognize that your adversary Satan’s age-old strategy is always to “divide and conquer”. He longs to rob you of wholesome and ‘holy’ relationships with your family and friends. If you open the door to his lies and scheming, he will do all he can to get you to focus on yourself and to pit you against others, because his desire is to destroy intimacy and joy in your relationships.
3) Instead of focusing on your “rightness” on an issue, be willing to surrender your “right to be right” in order to be in right relationship with the other person. Remember, Jesus gave up all of His rights in order for you to be in right relationship with your Heavenly Father. If He had insisted on His rights, He never would have gone to the cross in your place and you would still be doomed to death and damnation. You are called to follow Him and ‘pick up your cross daily’ (Luke 9:23), which means being willing to sacrifice your rights for the sake of relationships.
4) Rather than rehearsing your side of the story, seek to see the situation from the other person’s point of view. 1st Corinthians 13:5 tells us: “Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].” Amplified version
5) Do NOT get others outside of the conflict involved for the purpose of taking sides with you! “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful in spirit keeps the matter hidden. “Proverbs 11:13
6) If the Lord leads, get together with the other person(s) to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15) for the purpose of reconciliation. Before doing so, make sure to ask God to give you a humble, ‘unoffendable’ heart. Ask Him to show you where you might be in the wrong. Make your priority listening to the concerns and understanding the heart of the other person rather than just sharing your own viewpoint. Above all else, allow no root of bitterness or resentment to grow in your heart toward the other person. Be even more vigilant of ridding yourself of resentment than you would be of ridding yourself of cancer in your body.
7) Be rich in mercy and generous in forgiving, knowing that you owe your very life to the mercy of God and the forgiveness He bought for you through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Do you deal with conflict God’s way? If not, are you willing to do so for the sake of healthy relationship with others, and even more importantly, to be in right relationship with God?