Preventing & Resolving Conflict: The Biblical Path to Peace
“It has been said, ‘Marriage is made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning.’ Many marriages are characterized by conflict. For God’s people, this should not be so. Any Christian couple can learn to dwell together in unity. I am not saying that Christian couples will always see everything eye to eye or even never offend one another. What I am saying is that true Christians can learn how to keep from fighting with one another. Even just one partner can keep a conflict from happening (Proverbs 15:18).” (Stuart Scott, The Exemplary Husband, pg. 241)
We can be encouraged because God’s Word is full of everyday, practical answers 1) for preventing conflicts and 2) for resolving conflict Biblically. In a world filled with strife and division, often finding its way into the Christian home, we can be a “peacemaker” and learn to handle conflict in a way that pleases God and benefits all those involved.
As we begin this study, let’s commit ourselves to being the kind of person who seeks to solve problems and not create them.
- Important Introductory Ideas
- Exactly What is a Conflict?
- Literally it means, “to strike; fight against.”
- A General Definition: Conflict is when two parties sin against one another (in communication and/ or their actions) and are then in opposition to one another.
A conflict requires at least two people responding sinfully to one another?
- What Does God Think of Conflict?
- It is grieves Him
- He wants His children to have no part in it
- He wants His children to pursue peace
Romans 12:18; 14:19
- He wants His children to avoid needlessly or sinfully offending others
1 Corinthians 10:31-32
- He wants His children to love, pray for, and do good to those who sin against us.
Matthew 5:44-45; Romans 12:21
- Where Do Conflicts Come From?
- From responding sinfully to differences
Different backgrounds: family, traditions, economics, etc.
Different personal habits: likes, dislikes, perspectives
- From responding sinfully to offenses
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:23-24
- From a failure to love (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
“For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
- From pride and the flesh
Galatians 5:19-21; James 4:1-3
- Ungodly Responses to Conflict
- By just keeping quiet
- By staying away from one another
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another …”
1 Peter 4:8
- By changing the subject
“Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.”
“Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.”
- By concealing information, sins, or bitterness
“One who plans to do evil, men will call a schemer.”
- Responding with sinful anger
- Attacking the person rather than the problem
see Pride and Humility illustration
III. A Biblical Response to Conflict
- Some God-honouring Ways to Avoid Conflict
- Seek to know your spouse well; appreciate him/her and understand his/her perspective
“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
1 Peter 3:7
- Gather plenty of information before speaking
“He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”
“The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:13, 17
- Pray, study, and think through an issue before speaking
“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”
- Demonstrate and communicate your love and care at the time of disagreement
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”
- Listen more than you speak, but do speak
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger”
- In matters of sin, approach your spouse in love
“speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (*** you don’t have “THE RIGHT” to vent on your spouse)
- In matters of preference, prefer your spouse
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”
- In matters of wisdom and conscience, suggest searching the Scriptures and getting Biblical counsel
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
2 Tim. 2:15
- Refuse to sin in your communication
“”Listen, for I will speak noble things; and the opening of my lips will reveal right things. 7 “For my mouth will utter truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 “All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverted in them.”
- Be more interested in God’s glory and other’s good, than having your own way, or being “right”.
1 Corinthians 10:31
- Give a gentle and caring answer to angry words
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- Some Biblical Ways to Resolve Conflict (aspects of repentance)
- Confess any sin that you are aware of to God (1 John 1:9-10)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts;
and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”
- Go to your spouse and ask forgiveness for each offense and discuss a plan not to do those things again
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
- Desire to resolve conflicts fully, and quickly
“Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
- Pray together for God’s wisdom, self-control, and speech
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”