How to Resolve Conflict, Part 1
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
In my many years of marriage, I have never won a silent treatment battle. A silent treatment battle is when two people stop talking because they are angry with one another. It happens in the best of relationships. However, I’m happy to report all of our brief marital squabbles have been resolved.
Disagreements happen. They are as much a part of life as breathing. Wherever people coexist problems will arise. And sometimes those problems escalate into conflicts that, if unresolved, can cause pain, suffering, animosity, and destruction.
The Bible has much to say on the subject, and some of it runs counter to man’s logic. But if we will learn and apply God’s instruction for resolving conflict, we will benefit greatly.
I can’t promise that using these principles will always result in peace, satisfaction, and harmony. As long as there is evil in this world there will be wars and rumors of wars, even in some of our interpersonal relationships. It will be that way until the Lord returns.
As Christians, our spiritual priorities are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) These vital character qualities should be kept top of mind, worked on, and refined. They reflect the presence of Christ and spiritual maturity. The fruit of the Spirit is indispensable for maintaining a godly perspective in all of life’s troubles and conflicts. It enables us to exhibit grace under fire.
Following then are 5 of the 16 Biblical principles on How to Resolve Conflict. These strategies are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but a practical guide for handling discord and mending broken relationships.
(1) seek to settle matters quickly (Ephesians 4:26)
Yes, Christians get angry, but “In your anger do not sin.” The spiritually mature Christian keeps his or her emotions under control. Don’t use language that blasphemes God. Don’t lower yourself by returning evil for evil. Take the Lord’s higher road of grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Deal with your anger first, then seek to resolve conflict. Don’t let the little spark of discord become a consuming flame.
Bitterness is destructive. In Hebrews 12:15, it is represented as a “bitter root.” That inner hostility grows into an explosive force that hurts others and accomplishes no good thing. Bitterness insures sinful thoughts and leads to unrighteous acts unbecoming a servant of Christ.
Grudges, rage, and unresolved conflicts are an invitation for evil. How foolish to give “…the devil a foothold.” The Apostle Peter warned, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He will seek to destroy your good witness, reputation, and obedience to Christ. Satan is a master at making you look like the bad guy. Don’t give him ammunition to use against you. The evil one does not want you to resolve conflict. Quite the contrary. He delights in chaos.
People hurt us deeply with wounds that last a lifetime. But with the help of the Lord, we can forgive. The greatest example of forgiveness is how God has forgiven us. There can be no complete resolution of conflict without applying this basic tenant of the Christian faith.
(5) love and pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44)
Loving people who love us and support us is easy. Loving our enemies is difficult and contrary to the way the world views love. Part of that act of Christian love is to pray for those who have wronged us and pulled us into conflict. Pray for God to enable you to love your enemies as you should and pray He will make them receptive to your desire to resolve conflict.
Tomorrow we’ll continue to look at more of what the Bible has to say about conflict resolution. Until then, is there an ongoing conflict in your life that causes you grief? Are you holding onto bitter feelings for someone who hurt you long ago? Go to the Lord now and seek His help to cleanse your heart of animosity and wicked thoughts. And ask Him to bless your offender.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Love Means You Sometimes Have to Say You’re Sorry
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.