We all encounter conflicts with others. It is part of being human. I personally hate dealing with conflicts, I would much rather hide in a hole by myself than have to face conflicts. But facing conflicts is extremely important. For it is often through resolving conflicts with others that we ourselves and others grow and mature. God is very wise. He designed us humans to be like sandpaper to each other. When we face conflicts and resolve them in healthy ways following Jesus’s guidance the result is something more beautiful and better than previous. Is this always the case? Well no, sometimes conflicts cannot be resolved and we have to walk away. Jesus gave his disciples some very wise advice about dealing with conflicts. This biblical wisdom is something we should all pay attention to because it is something we face often. Sometimes daily.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:15-20
When I read this I am reminded of many people in the church that have hurt me in some way. My natural tendency is to hold on to this resentment, allow it to fester into something ugly and damaging. Similarly the person who hurt me is walking around most like completely oblivious to what they did in the first place. My next tendency is to gossip about this person as a way of releasing my anger. Let’s just say this unhealthy cycle does nothing but destroy myself and others. I am not that great at conflict resolution. But Jesus is showing me what the better way should be.
Instead of allowing my hurt from someone else in he church to fester into a gigantic mass of ugliness I should attempt to speak with this person regarding my feelings. The hope would be that we would resolve the conflict and both come out better having learned from the experience. Similarly if this does not occur then the next step would be to bring 2 friends. Then the next step would be to take it to the church. This process allows for healthy accountability, resolution of conflicts but also improves emotional health. If we were all better at following this guideline Jesus has set then we would need fewer counselors in this world.
Do you have a Christian brother or sister in your life that you are holding on to old resentment and hurt? Have you tried to resolve this conflict? If not how could you act based on Jesus wisdom to resolve your conflict? May Jesus give us all the heart, strength and ability to walk in faith and learn better ways with dealing with conflicts. Amen.