Summary: Conflict. It can come in various forms and in various ways. There can be a conflict of interest, conflicting opinions, etc. Conflict is one of those things that we’ve all dealt with on some level. Some people go out of their way to avoid conflict; others
CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?
INTRODUCTION: (Rodney King saying. Ironic that I’m doing this sermon with his famous line and I read that he just got arrested! I think this time it was without incident). Conflict. It can come in various forms and in various ways. There can be a conflict of interest, conflicting opinions, etc. Conflict is one of those things that we’ve all dealt with on some level. Some people go out of their way to avoid conflict; others seem to actually enjoy it. But in any event it’s a serious issue; especially if the conflict is within the church. How can we deal with conflict so we can learn to get along with others?
1) Why don’t I get along with you?
• Anger. Prov. 30:33, “For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” Strife is another word for conflict. Anger stirs up conflict. Anger also causes us to do bad things in retaliation to conflict. It can cause us to hate, seek revenge, plot sabotage-all those negative responses to conflict. Anger is a conflict producer.
• Pride. Prov. 13:10, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Sometimes we are in conflict with people because of our overwhelming desire to be right. We have to get our point across; we have to have the last word. We feel the other person has to take our advice and if you don’t, there’s going to be major conflict. That’s pride. Even if we are right, even if our advice is solid that doesn’t mean there has to be conflict about it. No one is going to take our advice any faster by us trying to force it. Pride breeds conflict.
• Jealousy. James 4:1-3. What was causing their conflict? Jealousy, envy, covetousness. They had their evil desires but weren’t being fulfilled. So they did what? Instead of blaming themselves, they blamed others and developed conflicts with them. They didn’t have because they didn’t ask God and when they did ask they didn’t have proper motives. Even though their issues had everything to do with them, not others, they still got into conflict with others over it. We see someone who has what we don’t and we form an inner conflict with them over it. It’s not their fault, they didn’t do anything to us but we develop a dislike for them anyway, with plenty of justifications for our conflict. Jealousy breeds conflict.
• Satan. The reason we get in conflicts with others is because of our conflict with Satan. He loves to stir things up. He loves to instigate and to create divisions. He gets his jabs in, poking us with his lies. “You see what he just did? Are you going to let him get away with that?” “You hear what she just said? You’re not going to just sit there and take that are you?” Satan plants the seeds; we water the seeds and out come the weed with the bitter root. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that ultimately, our conflict isn’t with others so much as is it with him and his forces of evil. The conflict we face is ultimately due to Satan’s influence on our lives. Gal. 5:17, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” Therefore, we are in conflict with others because there is a spiritual conflict going on within us.
2) What is missing?
• Peace. Prov. 17:1, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” As long as there is peace, there is joy. We could have all the money and material things we could want but if there’s no peace what do we really have? Better to have little as long as there is peace. Col. 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Notice that this takes care of the jealousy factor also. There is contentment in peace. Be thankful. Better is a little in peace than much in strife. We need to see that having a lot of stuff doesn’t constitute joy and happiness. Therefore, instead of striving for material gain we need to strive for peace and contentment. Then I will be happy. Peace will resolve conflict.
• Humility. Phil. 2:1-4. Pride looks out for #1. Pride breeds conflict. But, humility will allow me to be concerned about others. Humility will allow me to be interested in your interests. Plus, humility will allow me to look at conflict in an objective way and from a realistic perspective. What responsibility do I carry in this conflict? What fault lies with me? What part do I play in all of this? If I am acting according to humility, I provide an opportunity for conflict to be resolved.