Summary: In this lesson, we will explore biblical principles as to the appropriate way to involve others when seeking to resolve a conflict. Let’s answer three questions:
Taking the Next Step in Conflict Resolution
1. Paul knew that there would be quarrels within the body of Christ. Colossians 3:13
• In any church, there will be conflicts, disputes, disagreements, annoyances, hurt feelings, differences of opinion, etc.
2. If we follow the peacemaking principles set forth in Scripture, we should be able to resolve most conflicts with our opponent in private.
3. When we approach others with a spirit of gentleness and humility and speak the truth in love, most people will respond in a positive way, and disputes can be resolved.
• We learned several key principles from Scripture about how to communicate with others, especially when involved in a dispute.
4. However, when peace is not restored and important issues are not resolved, it may be necessary to involve one or two other respected friends, church leaders, or other neutral individuals who can help to restore peace.
• This person is a sort of mediator. Webster’s defines this as, “One that mediates between parties at variance.” Webster’s listed several words as synonyms for this - intercessor, intermediary, go-between, middleman, peacemaker.
• I like “mediator” because it is a biblical word and it reflects the work of Christ. He is our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). It takes a Christ-filled person to take two people at odds, bring them together, and reconcile them.
• You couldn’t be more like Christ than when you are reconciling two people that are at odds.
• Let us make one thing clear – we are not discussing criminal issues such as physical abuse, rape, molestation, etc.
• When someone is threatening us, breaking into our home, or abusing a member of our family, as believers we have every right to call the police and seek help and protection. Governmental authority is in place by God’s design and God’s will.
• This text is dealing with civil disputes and personal issues between two believers.
6. In this lesson, we will explore biblical principles as to the appropriate way to involve others when seeking to resolve a conflict. Let’s answer three questions:
First, how do you know when it is appropriate to involve others in helping you to resolve a conflict with another person?
1. Matthew 18:16 is very practical in answering this question. “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more…”
2. The only reason to seek outside help is if the other person refuses to listen or work towards reconciliation. He has dug in his heels and refuses to do anything to work toward reconciliation.
3. You should make several attempts before involving others. If the other person refuses to listen, you may want to:
• Vary your approach.
• Check and see if you truly went to him in a spirit of meekness, or if you alienated him by the manner in which you approached him.
• Make sure you were willing to listen to the other person.
4. Only when there is a total unwillingness to discuss the conflict, should you seek help from others.
Second, what is the proper way to ask others to become involved in helping you to resolve a conflict with someone?
1. Always try to do it by mutual agreement between you and your opponent.
• You can suggest that the two of you ask one or more neutral persons to meet with you in an effort to facilitate more productive dialogue.
• The neutral persons may be mutual friends, church leaders, fellow church members, or respected individuals in your community.
• If your opponent balks at your suggestion to involve others, carefully explain why doing so would be beneficial.
2. If you cannot do it by mutual agreement, you may need to involve others on your own initiative. Mutual agreement is always preferred, but it may not be possible if the other person won’t agree.
• Before you take this step, it is wise and often beneficial to warn your opponent of what you are about to do.
3. Whoever you choose as a mediator, make every effort not to give him any details about the conflict. Simply explain that you and the other person are at odds and need some help. Why is this so important?
• It could bias him in your favor or encourage you to slander or gossip.
• Only when you and the other person are both present should you give a detailed explanation of your perceptions to the mediator/counselor.