Summary: A look at how Paul dealt with a conflict he had with Peter and 5 common mistakes people make when dealing with conflict
SBC Philippi 2/6/05 am
Rev. Jeff Simms
Dealing With Conflict Wisely
Primary Purpose: To discuss the Bible way to handle conflict in our lives and to examine 5 mistakes that people make in dealing with conflict
There are a few things that are guarantees in this life. I know that I will one day pass away, I know that I have to pay taxes, I know that I have to one day stand before the Lord and answer for my life and I know that there will at times be conflict. This is because we live in a fallen world where there is sin and strife. Many people also, didn’t grow up having good role models to learn how to deal with conflict, probably most of us didn’t. What I want to do this morning is to look at what the Bible has to say about conflict looking at an example from the life of Paul and Peter. Then also we want to look at some mistakes to avoid in conflict. (Read Galatians 2:11-14)
In Galatians 2, Paul is telling the Galatians church some of the history of his ministry, where he has been and what he has been doing. A high point of this is the Council that met in Jerusalem. Most of the apostles including James, the brother of Jesus and Peter were a part of this council. This had to do with the role the Gentiles would have in the church and how they would be received. Would they have to observe the law, temple sacrifices and circumsion as in the past or not? That Council stated that a person is not saved by observing the law and affirmed that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. This council is mentioned more completely in Acts 15.
At some point after this council, Paul was in Antioch when Peter arrived. At first, he began to associate with the Gentiles as church brothers at the same level and way as he associated with the Jews. But, then Paul says certain men came from James in Jerusalem. James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Peter became worried about what people would think and under some peer pressure to conform, he acted hypocritically. v.13 Not only that, but because he was a leader others followed his example, so that Barnabas got caught up in it too.
Paul had a choice about how he would respond to the hypocrisy that he saw growing around him. The stakes here are high. If he says nothing or does nothing, it will look like Paul is in agreement with their actions. There are several actions that Paul could have taken on that day that would have not solved his problem.
There are several strategies that people use when faced with a possible confrontational situation like Paul was. Most of them don’t work and actually can make things worse. There’s the
1. Head in the sand approach- this person is going to stick there head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. This is like a resident assistant I know of that use to monitor the dorms we lived in. He said that as far as he was concerned if he didn’t see it, smell it or hear of it then it didn’t happen.
Me and my roommate, who is now a pastor in Texas, use to refer to this dorm as Satan’s den. I remember some of the guys in the dorm staying up late at night all the time. One guy threated a fellow with a broken whiskey bottle right down the hall from me. It was a terrible place to try and live, but for this resident assistant there wasn’t a thing wrong.He decided that he would just ignore the problems around him. The problem with this approach is it usually allows the problem to get worse instead of better.
2. The burnt earth approach- this is the person who for the sake of trying to kill an ant will burn down a forest. This person’s motto is “Win at all costs”. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt as long as I win. This is obviously contrary to the principle that the Bible tells us that we should love others. My Bible says in Romans 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Then again in v.s.17 “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
3. The Passive aggressive approach- this is the person who won’t confront Peter, but he’s go get on the phone and say nasty things about him all day long. Peter isn’t going to find out for days with this approach that Paul is even mad at him. Not only does this approach not show Peter any love, but there is a lack of respect for Peter shown here also. This approach will not solve the problem and damage the relationship possibly beyond repair. If you wouldn’t want someone treating you that way, then don’t treat others that way.