Summary: Resolving Differences in Six Steps - Acts 15:12-35

Resolving Differences in Six Steps - Acts 15:12-35

Illustration:While a $100,000 fire truck stood by unused because nobody knew how it operated, fire destroyed a power plant in the tiny village of Akiachak, Alaska. Damage to the plant was estimated at $250,000.

Too many people fail to realize the importance of resolving differences until it is too late.

1. Have you ever wondered how to resolve a difference of opinion in the church? For the sake of unity in Christ we are urged to seek middle ground where we can remain harmonious. Paul and James, two of the most divergent thinkers in the Bible learned how to resolve their differences through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Both men looked at truth from very different perspectives, but through the Spirit’s leading they agreed to magnify what they had in common rather than their disagreements. Ask the Lord to help you negotiate on essentials that you can agree upon instead of quarreling over non-essentials.

2. Resolving differences often involves a little give and take. Paul won the concession that the Gentiles would not be required to submit to the distinctive rites of circumcision and the law. James saw to it that his Jewish friends expected that the "Gentiles abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled and from blood." (Acts 15:20) Learn how to make concessions so that both parties sense they have gained something in the negotiating process. Ask the Lord to give you the wisdom to know the best ways to negotiate on substance, style and personality.

3. The Spirit of God showed the council how time tends to resolve many conflicts. The council of Jerusalem came to trust the Holy Spirit to work the necessary changes through the hearts of individuals and their congregations in Godâs time schedule. Surely, the hardliners would have preferred to come away with strict guidelines, policies and procedures for all Christian churches. In Jerusalem there was much more pressure to conform to the laws of Moses than in Antioch. In a Gentile city, people came to Christ from a different perspective and tradition. Nevertheless, the Spirit showed the men of God how to let each congregation work out its own practices according to the principles of Christâs grace, love and truth. Ask God to help you wait on the His timing in resolving differences.

4. Let personal purification issues be guided according to a Christ guided conscience. Make allowances for the different ways that some people see certain practices. Do not be discouraged, distressed or chained by anotherâs world view. Paul wrote, "Who are you to judge the servant of another. To his own master he stands or falls·He who eats meat, does so to the Lord for he gives thanks. And he who does not eat does so to the Lord and gives thanks." (Rom. 14:4,6) Ask the Lord to give you the confidence that the Spirit will lead through individual conscience. Be careful not to judge another person using your own standards. Let God be the judge of all people in every situation with every decision. Do not spend much time with the angry scoffers who just love to fight.

5. When the decisions are made by a plurality of Godly elders implement them with gracious determination. Refuse to become frustrated by the complexity, uncertainty or disappointment you may be feeling. Many differences will not be resolved until we get to heaven. Trust the Lord for the grace to change the things you can and the serenity to accept the differences that cannot be changed. Ask the Lord to help you to not complain or boast, but determine to obey with an attitude of submission to His plans, people and processes.

6. Learn how to rest and rejoice in the greater wisdom, power and purposes of God’s church. There will be times when you are not able to understand or appreciate certain decisions. Ask the Lord to help you to think like Jesus, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven." (Matt. 6:10)Too many people are subconsciously saying, "My kingdom come and my will be done." Only God’s kingdom and will are going to be blessed of God. Obedience means blessings, but disobedience results in punishment. Let us rest, rejoice and reconsider God’s greater purposes than those of our own.

Conclusion:Hetty Green was once one of the richest women in America. When she died in 1916, her estate was estimated at nearly $100 million. Yet she was miserly to an extreme, living in cheap boardinghouses, wearing tattered clothes, and riding in a carriage that had once been used as a henhouse!

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