Biblical Principles for Conflict Resolution

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Conflict is a fact of life. The sooner we accept that fact, the easier life will be. No one likes conflict. In fact, most of us exert a lot of time and energy avoiding it. This is not an effective method of dealing with it. The key to dealing with it is developing a healthy strategy for it. We also need to understand that conflict is not always a bad thing. In fact, it is good for you. It develops character and stronger relationships. Psalm 35 gives us a detailed method of conflict resolution. In this chapter there are 5 basic principles.
#1 - Let God handle it. (v. 1, 23) David immediately gives God control and refuses to try and solve it himself. When you get offended, the best thing to do is do nothing. Satan wants to trick you into taking ownership of the offense rather than letting God have it. This is how he infects you with the spirit of offense.
#2 – Pray. (v. 17) Why is this always the last thing we think of doing? This should be the first. Prayer is the simple act of asking God for help. It is not telling God what we think he should do, but rather asking God for help and asking Him to help us see things from His perspective. We would be amazed at how easily conflict could be resolved if we would simply just pray.
#3 - Keep your attention focused on the problem solver, not the problem causer. (v. 10) David focused his attention on God. We tend to focus on what that person did to us rather than on what God can do for us. When we are offended we find ourselves saying things like, “Who do they think they are?” Instead of saying that, David says Who is like you, O God?” Try it the next time you are hurt. It’s amazing how this simple principle will immediately diffuse the hurt and anger and keep you from being offended.
#4 - Have compassion on those who have done you wrong (v. 13, 14) Compassion is the ability to look past the fault and see the need. The spirit of offense will cause you to take what happened personally. The spirit of compassion on the other hand, will help you see the offender through the eyes of Jesus. Compassion requires forgiveness. This is what Christ did for us. This may be the hardest thing you have ever done, but it is the only way to completely resolve conflict. Does this mean that we let sin go unpunished and look the other way? No, it simply means that we leave that up to the Holy Spirit.
#5 - Keep your mouth shut. (v. 28) This is probably the hardest of the 5 principles to follow. The ultimate goal of Satan once you are offended is to spread your offense to others. The tool he uses is your mouth. Notice what David didn’t do – he doesn’t tell anyone! The only person he talks to is the Lord. Once you open your mouth and talk to someone else, you are gossiping. This not only injures the other person, it further hurts you. Have you ever tried to feed a child who refuses to open his mouth? It’s impossible. Satan can’t feed you the spirit of offense if you refuse to open your mouth!
God never said resolving conflict would be easy. But when we do it His way, it brings reconciliation and healing and we become more like Him. If you have been hurt, start with number one today. It may not take away the hurt but it will start you on your way and will help keep the hurt from getting bigger.


Marcus Goodyear said...

I love the pic of your dog. We had a dog who looked just like that--he inspired the poem Ode to a White Dog on my site after he died last year. :(

This post is wonderfully practical. The hardest part of reconciliation for me is accepting when people refuse to reconcile. That is where I get impatient. My desire to fix problems kicks in. I have trouble letting go.

Thankfully, it doesn't happen often.

David Good said...

There's nothing like a Jack. They are one of a kind.

Thanks for your comment. Conflict is never easy especially when the other party isn't interested in working it out. That's the toughest part of pastoring. I too have to resist the urge to fix people and instead just love them where they are at and let the Holy Spirit do the changing.

Phil Duncalfe said...

Good post. I would find #5 the most interesting/controversial. I think there does come a point where you need to tell someone, but it must be done in an accountable way rather than a gossip way. I think if you have been offended, telling a person you trust can either bring you perspective and make you realise your offense is unjustified or they can support you as you try and bring reconciliation.

In terms of being in church, it may also be necessary to bring conflict to the attention of leaders of the church so they can also bring reconcialiation and forgiveness. Especially when the offender keeps re-offending.


David Good said...

Good point Phil. I agree. I was referring to people simply spreading their offense to other people who had nothing to do with the original conflict. There's a big difference between talking about it and getting advice from a wise friend. Thanks for your comment.


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