Summary: A 3 part series looking at how to resolve conflict. part 2 of 3.
First Baptist Church
Conflicted About Conflict!
Late one summer evening in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. The waitress had just served him when three tough looking, leather jacketed motorcyclist- of the Hell’s Angels type- decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his french fries, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it.
How do you think he responded? He calmly rose, picked up the check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on the cash register, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night.
When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, “He’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I don’t know about that, but he sure ain’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot.” (Illustration from a sermon by Jeff Simms)
Many of us may understand how this truck driver feels. It is hard to be nice to some people. The gospel teaches us that I have a obligation to every person, not just to the people who are nice.
Our world is littered with broken relationships. We have them in our families. We face them at work and school, with neighbors, different ethnic and social groups, between nations. What is the solution? Is there a way to repair the breech, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship?
I believe God gives us a vital key to restore relationships. We don’t talk about it much, but the Bible does. It is the key of humility. In essence, it is living out the Great Commandment to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. It means focusing on God and other people, not self.
Last week we began talking about conflict. I concluded that nobody who is normal likes conflict. In fact, one of the things that I have learned about conflict is that if it is done correctly, it can bring glory to God. How’s that for a leap of faith.
I want to touch on one thought from last week, and it will lead us in to today’s section about how to begin the process of reconciliation.
If there is a conflict between you and another believer, then you should go and speak to that person. That meeting should be just between the two of you. The purpose is to win your fellow believer over.
If our purpose is the same as what Jesus intends, we will not discuss with others the sins or conflicts we have with other believers. You see, greatness is not a competition, right? So we don’t need to publicize each other’s sins. We only do that to build ourselves up in our own eyes or the eyes of others.
Go and talk to the other person doing it in love, just the two of you.
Romans 12:18. ““If it is possible”” indicates that it may not be. ““As far as it depends on you”” means that you only have to do your part. ““live at peace”” is the goal for how you are to live.
Now, let me give you 6 guidelines that will help us when we need to have a private conversation with another believer:
1. Start soon — You may need some space to deal with your emotions, but the longer you put off your discussion, the harder it becomes to finally meet. Get things settled as soon as you can.
In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus instructed his listeners, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Why is this verse so important? Worshiping God is the highest priority in the life of a Christian. Yet Jesus says, being reconciled with others takes precedence over our worship. Get right with your brother or sister – then come and worship. Obviously if we need to get things straightened out with someone, that activity would take precedence over everything else too. Appointments for work, family obligations, social plans.
Jesus wants us to know that fractured community is a matter of urgency. Take action right away.
Let’s imagine that after church all of us decide to go outside and play a giant game of football, and while we’re playing, I break some fingers. I’m rolling on the ground in pain.