Summary: Conflict in our lives enslave us and prevent us from staying focused on God’s plan for us daily ... so when it comes God shows us what to do with conflict.
What Do You Do With Conflict?
Scripture: Matt. 20:20-25a.
Conflict is a matter of fact. It is something all people have experience in. Conflict is a reflexive response that occurs when
someone says or does something that is not considered acceptable by another person’s standard.
There are various degrees of conflict that lead people to respond in various ways. With the disciples in this scripture we find their response to be one of “indignation” (annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment.). They were literally ticked off.
Galatians 5:17 gives us a good picture and understanding as to what conflict is: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They
are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”
As a group of people, gathered in this place, it is our desire that conflict would not enter these walls. That is also God’s desire ... for abhors when his children are conflicted in a way that can lead to disharmony and disunity. Unfortunately, we are people who struggle with living in the world, thinking at times as the world thinks, and in turn we find ourselves from time to time experiencing conflict.
I don’t like conflict ... Satan uses conflict to steal me away from staying focused on the things God wants to accomplish in my life, and in the work he has set before me to do for him. And to be truthful if it weren’t for other people around me, I wouldn’t have any conflicts ... and neither would you! You see conflicts come when people don’t always see eye to eye.
Over this past while I have been embroiled with others in our fellowship in a conflict. None of us who were involved were happy about it ... none of us were blessed ... and unfortunately it continued for a time that made the conflict grow greater and greater. Most of you here probably did not know that a conflict was happening ... and that is a good thing. None the less, there was conflict.
Now, I am happy to share with you that this conflict has been resolved to the glory of God and to the betterment of all who were involved. Sadly, we all recognized how human we really are, in spite of our desire to be people led of the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit, and moved by the Spirit. It revealed to all of us that the natural desires that exist in us are still contrary to the desires of God and his Spirit.
What I have found to be a blessing though, as this journey unfolded before us, is that God uses these moments to hold a mirror up before us to see things we are not always so willing to see or believe. In this God shows us a reflection and compares it to the image of Jesus. We are faced with the reality of our imperfections, and we are also faced with the reality that God has more things for us to learn, as we strive to be more like Jesus in all ways.
Conflict can have positive results if we choose to follow a path of reconciliation and are willing to be teachable to things God wants to speak into our lives through others.
God, through his Word, shows us a process in dealing with conflicts. The first part of this process is an understanding that God has given us freedom - freedom to be free in all things ... especially in conflicts. Gal 5:1-2 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Conflict, if left unresolved, will enslave you. It will bind you up in your emotions so that you cannot be free to concentrate on the things God wants you to focus on today. God desires that we should avoid conflicts amongst each other. He also knows our inner natures and will allow conflict in our lives to mature us spiritually and emotionally.
God, in His Word, has given us guidelines and instructions to consider that will help us stay away from conflict. And should conflict come, these instructions bring us to reconciliation.
Here are two lessons I have learned from scripture, and experienced, about conflict and dealing with it.
1. Expect conflict ... even amongst Christians.
Watch out for it! Eph 5:15 “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Conflict often comes when we let our guard down in our walk with God. We get into a comfort zone where we fail to put on the armor of God daily, and we aren’t careful with our speech and our emotions. When our guard is down it is easy for us to be misunderstood, to mis-communicate, or to have our emotions stepped on that brings misunderstandings.