Summary: Biblical conflict management.
“How to Be a Real Life Survivor”
Sermon # 2
“HOW TO SURVIVE CONFLICT”
Last week we introduced our new Survivors series, “How to Be A Real Life Survivor.” We began by looking at “What does it mean to be a Survivor?” We noted that in our world today we talk about all kinds of survivors: cancer survivors, abuse survivors, tornado survivors, earthquake survivors and the list goes on and on! We concluded that it is great to be a survivor, but that we wanted to do more than just survive. We also observed that the Bible does not use the word “survivor” but it does use the word “Overcomer,” which means to prevail, to pass over, to gain the victory.
Our first study determined that far more important than the ability to survive on a desert island or in the Australian outback or even to win a million dollars, is the ability to be a spiritual survivor in this world. Having settled the issue of whether or not you are a spiritual survivor we want to go on to examine “How to Survive Conflict.”
I wish I could tell you this morning that there is someway to avoid conflict in your life. It sure would make life easier, but the truth is that all conflict cannot be avoided so we need some tools for conflict management.
In the 1950’s there was a television series entitled “Father Knows Best.” In this series the actor Robert Young played the character of Robert Anderson, the wonderful father who had endless patience and wisdom, who was married to an attractive and submissive 1950’s kind of wife and was the father of three delightful ideal children. Problems would arise of course, but nothing that would offend the sponsor and nothing that could not be resolved in the space of a half hour show. But that was television! In real life Robert Young was leading a troubled life. He was an alcoholic prone to violence and depression. For decades he struggled with the thoughts of suicide. There is in his story a spiritual truth, that in many families, the smiling faces are only a façade. Beneath the smiling surface there are often lives deeply troubled by more conflict than they feel they can manage.
Since conflict cannot be avoided we need to understand the source of the conflict in our lives and some techniques for managing conflict. James, early leader of the church at Jerusalem and our Lord’s step brother, defines the basic cause of conflict (4:1) when he says, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (NKJV). James doesn’t beat around the bush, he comes right to the point. James says that cause of conflict is the conflicting desires within ourselves. When my wants come into conflict with your wants then sparks are going to fly.
In looking for ways to deal with conflict we are going to look at the letter the Ephesians. Ephesians is a book about relationships, it deals with how to function with each other in the face of our conflicting desires. It covers just about every kind of relationship possible and in our text today gives some sound advice regarding conflicts.
“Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. (26) “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (27) nor give place to the devil. (28) Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (29) Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (32) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (NKJV) Paul in this section of his letter to the Ephesians gives us four steps in Conflict Management.
I. Speak the Truth in Love v 25
“Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
To handle conflict, we have to speak the truth. For Christian’s truth is not a choice it is a necessity. Lying is destructive both to the self and to relations with others. Sometimes we seem to think that we can help people by lying to them, such is not the case.