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 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.
See Psalm 32:3-6. If unsettled issues with God result to pain and restlessness, then it is the same thing with our relationship with men.
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.
3. We should settle disputes promptly because it deprives us of peace. (vv. 6-7)
How many of you cannot sleep soundly when you have a disagreement with someone – especially with our spouse? The reason Paul encouraged them to pray are discord and disagreement in the relationship. He told them to make this concern be made known to God. Instead of worrying, he instructed them to pray.
The Greek word translated “anxious” in Philippians 4:6 means “to be pulled in different directions.” Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart! To “worry” means “to strangle.” In fact, worry has definite physical consequences: headaches, neck pains, ulcers, even back pains. Worry affects our thinking, our digestion, and even our coordination.
We are worried that our loved ones might abandon us. We worry about the action the other person might take. We are anxious about the lack of trust of the person we offended. We are concern that the other party might commit suicide or elope. We think of various negative thoughts. We lose control of the situation and become desperate.
What we can do is to go to that person and settle our disagreement. We need to talk, listen, and if needed seek forgiveness or grant forgiveness. We need to pray and ask God to intervene. Paul said that the result is that the “peace of God” guards our heart and mind. These two areas create worry—the heart (wrong feeling) and the mind (wrong thinking).
See Isaiah 26:3. Therefore when disagreement occurs at home, work, and the church, begins praying instead of worrying. Pray that the disputes be settled promptly. The longer the settlement is delayed the greater the damages.
ILLUSTRATION “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny!”