31 Mar Dealing with Christian Conflict
Just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean that we’re immune to conflict. But the way we handle that conflict has to be different from the world.
Social Media has introduced “keyboard warriors,” and that’s definitely not the way to handle conflict.
Thankfully, God has given us a step-by-step guide in His Word about dealing with conflict.
Using the method He has lined out in His Word, we can alleviate 90% of conflicts with one step.
Dealing with conflict this way is a matter of growing in maturity in Christ. We often judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. But we can change that.
Can I encourage you to start re-evaluating the way you handle conflicts?
When the world sees the loving way we deal with conflict, they will see a glimpse of the Father’s love.
INFO FROM THE SHOW
Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. I he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Christians are not immune to conflict. We’ve found an outlet that we think is harmless because we’re detached from it. But God has a step-by-step guide in his word about dealing with conflict.
How to handle conflict:
- Meet one on one.
- If that doesn’t work, then take one or two people with you.
- Then take it to the church.
- If the person still doesn’t listen, then avoid them and move on.
Can I encourage you to start re-evaluating the way you handle conflicts? Instead of going right to Facebook and “venting” there, realize that every word you type hurts someone. And that puts you in the same spot that you’ve put them.
If someone said something that hurt you, go to them with a tender heart. Explain what they did that hurt you. If that doesn’t work, bring one or two other Christians, if that doesn’t work then go to your pastor and explain the situation and what you’ve tried to do to prevent it.
When the world sees the loving way we deal with conflict, they will see a glimpse of the Father’s love.
Welcome back to The Graceful Life Podcast. I am Ashley Varner. I am your Host. And I am excited to talk to you today. This is episode 10, and I have entitled this episode Dealing With Christian Conflict, and this is actually a bonus episode, because every month, we have certain topics, and I have just really been feeling like this topic, or this subject has to be talked about right away. It didn’t really fit with either of February, or March, or April’s topics.
And so I just decided to do a bonus episode for you guys, and really just talk to you about this idea about dealing with conflict among Christians. Because there’s kind of a misconception out there, that because we’re Christians, that means that we’re immune to any conflict and that we’re always going to be peaceful with each other, and everybody loves each other, and there’s never any conflict. But, that is not true. Christian’s deal with conflict. They did in Bible times. They do now. And just because we are following the Lord doesn’t mean that we’re immune to that.
So the biggest issue, as far as Christian conflict goes, is the way that we handle it. Because the way that we handle conflict as Christians has to be different than the world. And so we’re going to talk about that in this episode today, so I am excited to talk to you about this. This is definitely been something that’s touched my life, and I’m sure every Christian out there has had some times when they have dealt with conflict with somebody else. Whether it wasn’t their fault, or whether it was their fault, and so let’s just dive right in and talk about this.
With the introduction of social media, there has been this birth of what my pastor likes to call, “Keyboard warriors.” And we … You know what I’m talking about, just from that phrase. It’s people who are super courageous behind the keyboard, and they would say things or type things that they would never say. Conversations are going on all the time that wouldn’t happen if people were face-to-face, or even on the phone.
I found that this is an outlet, that we think it’s harmless because we’re detached from it. The person that we’re talking to isn’t right in front of us. We’re not seeing the direct result of what we’re saying and so we’re braver, we’re more cruel, and the bad thing about this type of conflict is that it’s out there for the entire world to see. So if you are living for the Lord and people know that you’re a Christian, and you have a conflict with another Christian, and you take it out on social media, the world is seeing that. And they’re seeing that we’re no different than them in the way that we handle conflict.
And so God really has a step-by-step guide in His word about dealing with conflict. Jesus actually is the one who shared this with us. I really feel like it was spoken for Christians, for believers, for brothers, and families. So we’re going to talk about that. I’m going to read the verses to you and then we’re going to break it down and kind of talk about what the Bible says about dealing with Christian conflict and how we can mature and grow in Christ as we handle conflict in this way.
This message or this text comes from Matthew 18 and it’s verses 15 through 17. I’m going to read the whole thing to you and then, like I said, we’re going to break it down. So it says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you, as a gentile or a tax collector.”
The first step in God’s step-by-step guide in dealing with conflict is to meet with the person one-on-one. His word says to go to that person, so if at all possible, meet in person with the person who you’re having this conflict with. One-on-one. Not tons of other people around, and don’t use texting, or emails because those kind of things can be misconstrued. You can say something in a joking way or in a sarcastic way, and in a text or in an email, it’s not going to come through that way. Even calls can be misconstrued sometimes. You’re not face-to-face, it’s easy to just go rambling on and not really have a conversation. If at all possible, meet in person with this person that you are having this conflict with.
I think it’s really important to remember Proverbs 15:1 that says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Whenever you go to that person, remember that a gentle answer is going to turn away wrath. You don’t want to put someone on the defensive right away by the way that you jump out at them, and are accusing them right away, or whatever it might be. Then Ephesians 4:31 and 32 say, “Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God and Christ forgave you.”
What I take away from that is, whenever you’re going to and meet with someone one-on-one, and you’re going to talk to them, and you’re going to say, “You know what? You hurt me. Or, I’m upset about this. Or, we have this conflict.” Make sure that you’re going already with the heart of forgiveness toward them. Already in an attitude of kindness and being tender-hearted with them. Because we want to give people the benefit of the doubt and say, “You know what? I believe that they didn’t mean to do this, and so I’m going to go in already forgiving them, believing that God is going to take care of this situation.”
Once you meet one-on-one, you can really get a feel for where their heart is. Any time that someone hurts you in an accident, in an accidental way, this first step is going to alleviate so many issues just from that. Just from going to them and being honest with them. Saying, “You know what? This hurt me. Or, what you said hurt me.” In the same token, if you feel like you’ve offended somebody else, and you go to them. Most of the time, whenever you go to them with a tender heart and you tell them that you’re sorry, and you’re one-on-one, most of the time, they’re going to take that in a correct way.
So say that doesn’t work. If it doesn’t, then take one or two people with you. Now in the text it said to take one or two brothers with you, and what I believe that means is, take mature Christians. You’re not going to go to your buddy and say, “Hey, you know what? I went and talked to this person, and they did all these to me, and they’re not going to listen, and so let’s gang up on them.” It’s not that kind of a situation. It’s not about ganging up on the person. It’s about bringing an outside, unbiased perspective on the situation.
It’s not just a buddy, it’s not just, or I would say not even let it be someone who’s not a believer. You want to bring a mature Christian or two, or three, as it says in the verse, to come with you and say, “You know what? This is my heart. I want to fix this conflict. I want to deal with this conflict in the right way. I’m going about it as it says in Matthew, and so I’ve already gone one-on-one with them, and it’s no resolution was made, and so will you please come with me to bring an outside unbiased perspective?”
Once that happens, and I would probably say when the person, if you talk to them one-on-one and they’re not up for resolution, they probably will be on the defensive when you bring other people in. That’s why it’s so important to choose the people that you bring with you in a … Be very specific and very intentional about who you choose to bring with you. Because we don’t want to put that person on the defensive. We want to still come with a tender heart. We want to still come in an attitude of forgiveness.
Whenever we invite these other people to come in, we really want to make it clear. “Look. This isn’t about gossiping about this person. This isn’t about getting attention for myself. That I’ve done what I was supposed to do, one-on-one, and it didn’t work. And I don’t want this conflict to get blown up, and so I’m bringing in another person.” That’s the kind of attitude that you want to have whenever you bring it in.
If that still doesn’t work, then the word says to take it to the church. Now we’re talking about dealing with Christian conflict. Whenever there is any kind of Christian conflict, do not, I repeat, do not go to Facebook. Do not go to unbelievers. Because they’re not going to give you wise advice. If you go and vent on Facebook, what you’re going to get is a bunch of people that are going to kind of fan the flames of your problems. They’re not going to help alleviate the situation. They’re not going to help resolve the conflict.
Their hearts, to be honest, whenever they don’t know the entire situation, they’re not going to be in a place where they can give an unbiased perspective. They’re just going to jump on the bandwagon and say, “Oh, yeah.” They’re just going to convince you that, “You are so justified in this and you have a right to be angry,” and that’s definitely not how the word of God tells us to live. We take it to the church. You take it to your pastor. You take it to, if you’re in the same class or small group with this person, you take it to that leader. And definitely don’t take it to unbelievers.
I remember a conflict that arose between some good friends of mine. The person that was upset had a reason to be upset. The second believer was very remorseful, had already shared that with the person. And instead of forgiving and going at it in the right perspective, maybe bringing in some people from the church for counseling. The first person who was offended and sinned against really, went to a group of unbelievers. They went to their coworkers and just kind of spouted off. Really, I think, to have their self just kind of stroked a little bit.
Because sometimes, we know those people that if we know that what the right thing to do is to forgive someone, and we don’t want to do that, we’ll go to somebody who will make us feel better about not doing that. If you go to unbelievers, they don’t have the same perspective. They don’t have the same perspective as a believer would, or a Christian would, and so make sure that you take it to the church and deal with it there.
Then the word says, “If that person still doesn’t listen, then you’ve done everything you can to live at peace with them.” You’ve apologized, you’ve spoken with them, you’ve made yourself right within the church, and it’s time to just avoid them and move on. That seems super harsh, even as I say it, but I think that very, very few conflicts will actually get to this point. My guess is, like I said earlier, that that first step of just going to them one-on-one, and sharing your heart, and being honest.
I think that first step is going to alleviate 90% of the conflict that we face. Because many times, if we nip a conflict in the bud and we say, “You know what? I’m not going to allow the enemy to use this conflict as a foot stool in my life, as a foot hold in my life. I want to fix the situation.” Once we kind of get to that maturity level in Christ, 90% of our conflicts are going to be resolved quickly, and appropriately, and Biblically.
Another thing that I kind of wanted to mention when it comes to dealing with Christian conflict. I heard this quote a long time ago and it has stuck to me ever since. I read this quote that says, “We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.” How true is that? Whenever someone does something to us, automatically we judge them based on what they did, not by their intentions. But, whenever we do something, or we don’t do something, we think, “Well, you know. I meant to. Or, I had a good heart behind it. Or, I was only trying to help,” or something like that.
What if we switched that around? What if we let go of the flesh because, really, that’s what it is, and begin to give our Christian brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt? What if we started judging them by their intentions and ourselves by our actions? That’s like upping the level of maturity in your own life, taking responsibility for yourself, but also saying, “You know what? I’m choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Whenever I started living this way, my marriage got a lot more peaceful, to be honest. I have a great marriage. I love my husband so much, but I think in my mind, I would think, “Well, he doesn’t want to talk to me. Or, he just wants to watch TV,” or whatever. But once I started realizing his intentions and giving him, really, the benefit of the doubt, I realized how much my husband loves me, and wants to spend time with me, and I started judging him by his intentions. Saying, “You know what? He didn’t mean to hurt me. Or, he was just having, he had a long day, and wanted to rest before we chatted,” and I talked his ear off because I’m good at that.
Once we start doing that, we really start to see a maturity level in ourselves grow and we start to get closer to the Lord, and really become more mature as Christians. Can I encourage you to start reevaluating the way that you handle conflicts? Maybe you don’t go to Facebook. Maybe you just go to a certain friend, and talk, and chat, and that’s exactly where you go.
But instead of going right to Facebook, or instead of going right to your friends and venting there, I want you to realize that every word that you say and every word that you type hurts someone. That puts you in the same spot that you’ve put them. So if someone’s hurt you, and you go on Facebook, and you type all these horrible things, even if you don’t say their name, what you’re doing is the same thing that you are accusing them of doing. You’re hurting them with your words. Just want to put that out there.
If someone said something that hurt you, go to them with a tender heart. Explain what they did that hurt you, and if that doesn’t work, then bring one or two Christians along, and if that still doesn’t work, then go to your pastor and explain the situation, and what you’ve tried to do. Tell him that you’ve been using this message in Matthew to deal with this conflict. What’s going to happen is, when the world sees the loving way that we deal with conflict, they’re going to end up seeing a glimpse of the Father’s love.
They’re going to say, “You know what? That person hurt them, and instead of retaliating, instead of dealing with it in an immature way, they dealt with it in a way that I’ve never seen before. And how is that different than how I’m dealing with conflict?” Then you start to let your light shine through even the way that you handle conflict, and that’s going to speak volumes to the people around you.
I hope that you enjoyed this episode and I hope that it challenged you a little bit, because I know I’m definitely someone who has struggled with this in the past. But ever since I’ve been more intentional about seeking peace and seeking maturity in the way that I handle my conflicts, I have seen so much growth in myself, and I want that for you guys, too. So I will talk to you soon!