Summary: Conflict is inevitable. Watch your heart in a conflict. Focus on the heart of the matter. Seek to please the heart of Christ.
Just like to share with you a funny story at the start.
A man was stranded all alone on the desert island for years before he was finally rescued. His rescuers asked him what the 3 huts were that he had built on the island. It’s perplexing for one man to have 3 structures.
He said one was his house, one was his church, and one was where he used to go to church before he got his feelings hurt! He feels offended, so he left for a new church.
Conflict is inevitable, in any relationships.
• You do not need to have an enemy to have a conflict. It can happen to two good friends, even among loved ones in a family.
• Larry Crabb, a psychologist and bible teacher, said in his book ‘The Safest Place on Earth’: “The difference between the spiritual and unspiritual community is not whether conflict exists, but is rather in our attitude toward it and our approach to handling it.” If we can, by God’s grace, handle it well, then that really reveals our maturity and spirituality.
• Conflict itself does not make it unspiritual; it is our RESPONSE to the conflicts that defines it.
• When managed biblically, it can serve as an opportunity for spiritual growth as well as the maturing of the relationship.
We’re going to look at two sisters today, and the conflict that arose when Jesus was in their home.
• You see, even with Jesus in the house, you can have conflict. Even good disciples of Jesus will have quarrels. Conflict is inevitable; you just need to manage it well.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
It was Martha who invited Jesus to her home. So as a good and hospitable host, she got herself busy preparing the meals for her guests.
• That’s was probably her gift, and it was good. Jesus would be well served and comfortable in her home.
• Mary was being nice too, sitting by Jesus and listening to him. That was her way of expressing her love.
• We have a tendency to simply pit the two against each other, but both were actually doing what was good, by themselves.
Differences are good, but they clash sometimes.
• If God is a God of variety and made us all so different, then such clashes will come and we need to be prepared for them.
• What must we watch out for in a conflict situation, or a potentially explosive situation? I want to share 3 statements with a HEART in them:
(1) WATCH YOUR HEART IN A CONFLICT
Jesus says Martha has become “worried and upset about many things”. He says she was “distracted by all the preparations.”
• The work has already affected her emotion. The initial feeling of gladness for having Jesus come under their roof has now been replaced by worry and distress.
• The preparation has taken its toll on her. Her composure has changed. She has become impatient and irritated.
Jesus is concerned, not for the situation (that dinner would not be ready in time), but for what the situation is doing to Martha.
• The situation is causing Martha lots of stress. She is now worried and upset.
• Jesus is concern more about the person more than the problem at hand. We tend to be concern about the problem, more than the person, in a conflict.
• We want to get our point across, even at the expense of hurting the other person or even breaking up the relationship.
Emotions are fine, but don’t let them have the upper-hand. Don’t let emotions control you.
• Prov 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
• Eccl 7:9 “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
• You will do and say foolish things when you are angry. Zip up when you are angry. Take some time to cool down before you talk again. Be positive, or be quiet.
Martha vented her anger and she criticised her sister openly (first mistake), and not to her directly (second mistake), but raising the issue with Jesus instead.