Summary: Christians should see the need to settle disputes promptly.
SETTLING DISPUTES PROMPTLY
ILLUSTRATION The debate on whether to end the war in Iraq soon or not is intense. Each side has a strong argument to support their stand. But no matter when the government decides to end the war, it is always beneficial to conflicting parties. The longer it takes the more expenses and difficulties both parties would disburse.
On a personal level, as much as possible, we must settle our disagreement with someone promptly. I heard stories from individuals who are in conflict with others for years. We have disputes between couples, friends, family members, in-laws, co-workers, and church members. We can only be winners on war when the battle ends.
Our passage this morning deals with the reasons we should settle our disagreements with someone promptly. Paul gave instructions in Philippians 4:1-9 (quickview)  which I believe are related to the need to settle our disputes promptly. (Read the text.)
Paul pleaded with Euodia and Synteche to agree with each other in the Lord. Paul’s method of handling the problem suggests that it was not a doctrinal issue, but a clash of personalities. He even asked his loyal yokefellow to help these women to resolve their disagreements. He gave two reasons: they have contended at his side in the cause of gospel and their names are written in book of life. They were Paul’s fellow workers in preaching the gospel.
1. We should settle disputes promptly because it robs us of joy. (v. 4)
Why do you think Paul said to the Philippians “rejoice in the Lord always?” Disagreement leads to discomfort and uneasiness in the relationship. Disagreement or unresolved disputes oftentimes rob us of personal joy. Conflict creates an atmosphere of struggles, hatred, and even pains.
ILLUSTRATION In our homes, you can easily discern if something went wrong in our relationships. Everybody is quiet and the offensive person is uneasy while the offended party is angry. It is only when we settle the disagreement that normal harmony is restored.
2. We should settle disputes promptly because it hinders our gentleness. (v. 5)
To be gentle means to be free from harshness and roughness. It means to be peaceful and pleasant. It is the willingness to yield one’s personal rights and to show consideration to others. Paul commanded that gentleness be shown toward all. Why? When disagreement occurs, it limits our gentleness to a few.
It is easy to display this quality toward some persons, but to those whom we have disagreement, it is unthinkable. What prevail are dominance, insensitivity, and harshness. That is why in 2:14 Paul commanded the Philippians to stop complaining and arguing.
We should settle disputes promptly because it impedes our gentleness. Disagreement causes us to be sarcastic and harsh. Sometimes we even slander and insult the person who offended us. Therefore resolving conflict is the key to the restoration of kindness and gentleness to one another.