Summary: The message gives the 5 steps to avoid and diffuse conflict.

The Conflict Cure

James 4:1-10


This morning we are going to look at conflict in and out of the church. I have discovered a great deal about conflict and would like to share some of the more important points.

Lynn Buzzard gives negative advice on "How to turn a disagreement into a feud." He says there are eight (8) rules to escalating conflict.

1. Be sure to develop and maintain a healthy fear of conflict, letting your own feelings build up so you are in an explosive frame of mind.

2. If you must state your concerns, be as vague and general as possible. Then the other person cannot do anything practical to change the situation.

3. Assume you know all the facts and you are totally right. The use of a clinching Bible verse is helpful. Speak prophetically for truth and justice; do most of the talking.

4. With a touch of defiance, announce your willingness to talk with anyone who wishes to discuss the problem with you. But do not take steps to initiate such conversation.

5. Latch tenaciously onto whatever evidence you can find that shows the other person is merely jealous of you.

6. Judge the motivation of the other party on any previous experience that showed failure or unkindness. Keep track of any angry words.

7. If the discussion should, alas, become serious, view the issue as a win/lose struggle. Avoid possible solutions and go for total victory and unconditional surrender. Don’t get too many options on the table.

8. Pass the buck! If you are about to get cornered into a solution, indicate you are without power to settle; you need your partner, spouse, bank, whatever.

History gives us a rather interesting account on resolution of conflict. French novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas once had a heated quarrel with a rising young politician. The argument became so intense that a duel was inevitable. Since both men were superb shots they decided to draw lots, the loser agreeing to shoot himself. Dumas lost. Pistol in hand, he withdrew in silent dignity to another room, closing the door behind him. The rest of the company waited in gloomy suspense for the shot that would end his career. It rang out at last. His friends ran to the door, opened it, and found Dumas, smoking revolver in hand. "Gentlemen, a most regrettable thing has happened," he announced. "I missed."

One thing you will always find in a church is conflict. Throughout history the church has been at the center of war and conflict. Even at the beginnings of Christianity we find arguments, conflict, and war. Thankfully we have scripture that deals with what it is or the critical conflict, where it comes from or the cause, and God’s solution or the cure.

The Cause

James puts it this way in verses 1-3. He says,

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

Where did it all begin? It began in the Garden of Eden. All of the peace and comforts anyone could ever desire and it was thrown away because they were tempted to be like God. Perfect harmony and peace wasn’t enough so they chose to disobey and now look what happened.

Jean Baker Miller says conflict begins at the moment of birth. We are the cause of conflict and war. It has nothing to do with anything other than us. We are hard wired to make war, war with other people, other nations, and ultimately with God. To use that over-quoted, but endlessly right Walt Kelly line used by Pogo the Possum, "we have seen the enemy and they are us".

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

The Conflict

What is at the root of all of these conflicts and wars? In the next 2 verses we get the answer and it isn’t very surprising.

You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Little kids are a prime example. They don’t get something they want and a tantrum ensues. They fall on the ground kicking and screaming and demand that we get them what they want. You have probably seen an embarrassed parent in the grocery store or mall wondering how it looks to everyone else.

Most crimes are motivated by greed and power. Someone sees something another has, so they steal and kill to get it. We are a species that unlike the animal world that kills to survive, we kill because we want something simply because we want it.

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