Summary: A sermon preached in the midst of conflict in the church. What does Jesus say about dealing with conflict?
DEALING WITH CONFLICT
Larry Crabb wrote “The difference between spiritual and unspiritual community is not whether conflict exists, but is rather in our attitude toward it and our approach to handling it. When conflict is seen as an opportunity to draw more fully on spiritual resources, we have the makings of spiritual community.” In other words, it is how we handle conflict that determines the level of our spiritual maturity!
READ MATTHEW 5:21-26
Jesus speaks in this passage about conflicts that we have with other people in our lives. We know of course that murder is wrong. Jesus assumes that His audience knows that murder is wrong and I will assume that you know that as well. It is the law of our country as well. Verse 21 tells us plainly that anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. Jesus then takes it a step further in verse 22 and says that anyone who is “angry with his brother” is also subject to judgment. Anyone who curses another is subject to judgment. Jesus tells us plainly that evil speech and anger with one another is sin and will reap for us judgment. The judgment will be either governmental judges (verse 22... the Sanhedrin) or the judgment of God (verse 22... the fires of Hell).
Do you understand Jesus so far? There are conflicts in our lives with the people around us. What are we to do? How are we to act? Fortunately for us Jesus continues in verse 23. He says “therefore.” Because there will be times when you are angry with the people around you, this is what you do. Because there will be times when you need to say something to someone, this is what you do. Please note that I am not telling you this, but these are the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High.
What are we to do in the midst of conflict? Verse 23 describes a situation where you have come to worship and are offering your gifts and realize that there is a conflict in your life.
Are you going to ignore it?
Are you going to let it go?
Are you going to gossip about it to the other members of the church?
Are you going to talk about the person behind their back?
Are you going to write anonymous letters to people tearing them down?
Are you going to make phone calls and stir up sentiment against them?
What are you going to do?
What does Jesus tell us to do?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:24 that we are to go to that person and be reconciled to them. We are to make peace with that person. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Whose responsibility is it to live at peace with everyone? Yours. Mine. It is an individual responsibility. We are to go to one another and settle our differences before they get out of hand (verse 25), before they wreck our relationship with God, and before it damages our witness to nonbelievers (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).
This passage in Matthew 5 is not the only time that Jesus spoke about conflict. In Matthew 5, Jesus says that we are to... [have the congregation summarize]. Now let’s see what Jesus says in Matthew 18.