If you are alive, sooner or later, you will run into the buzz saw of conflict. Some people visit the land of conflict occasionally. Others seem to make the land of conflict their permanent residence.
Let’s begin with a biblical foundation. What does the Bible say about conflict?
- My sinful nature is the source of conflict.
I always want to blame others for the clashes I have at home or work. And certainly it takes two to battle. But James reminds me that I am the source of conflict in my life.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Convicting, isn’t it? James says that whenever there is conflict I have skin in the game. Whenever there is conflict I have to own up to my part in it.
- I need to own up to my part in the conflict.
Remember Jesus’ “Plank in the Eye” story. He asked, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). He pointed out the hypocrisy of focusing on the issues of others (their sawdust) while refusing to deal with our personal issues (our plank). It’s kind of like pointing out a bread crumb on your wife’s lip when you have a long string of cheese dangling on your chin from your French Onion soup (that’s why I don’t eat that stuff). Here is an important conflict principle to accept: it is never entirely the other person’s fault.
- A worshiper in conflict is a conflicted worshiper.
Remember Jesus’ “Conflicted Worshiper” story. He said if you are in a significant act of worship and remember that you are in conflict with a significant person in your life, then you should stop worshipping. Jesus said, “First go and be reconciled to your [husband/wife/child/parent/friend]; then come and offer your gift [of worship]” (Matthew 5:24). How our lives and our worship would change if we actually obeyed this instruction!
Remember, conflict starts with you. Until you are willing to deal with you…you can’t begin effectively deal with others.