walk in the word
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven us” Ephesians 4:32.
“We used to be close, but we haven’t talked for years.”
“I wouldn’t dread the holidays so much if I didn’t have to see him.”
“I don’t know how I could ever forgive, much less forget what she did . . .”
Sound familiar? In every family, every church, every work group, unresolved conflict robs good people of good relationships. Instead of resolving the conflict, we usually try to sweep it under the carpet or wait to flip some pages on the calendar and hope it’ll go away. But it won’t go away and we can’t escape it. Relational conflict is just a part of life. James 4:1 says,
Where do wars and quarrels and strife come from among you? Do they not come from your own desires which wage war in your members?
The problem’s not out there. The problem is in our own heart. It’s me and my own pride and my selfishness and my insistence on being right about things.
Wait—before you click away saying, “I don’t need to hear that!” Hear me out. I know that the person on the other side of your conflict may have a problem beyond your control but the peace you’re looking for is found in allowing God to build humility, graciousness and a loving nature into you. I know personally how hard this whole subject is. But I also know that God takes it very seriously. At the end of your life don’t you want to be able to say, “I tried to be a person who was passionate about the things that God was passionate about”? Don’t you want to be that person? Man, I do.
One reason I want you to know God’s way to resolve conflict is because you need to count the cost of not resolving conflict and see if it’s worth hanging on to. Resolving conflict is like fixing a leak in your roof. It’s just a trickle. I can do it tomorrow, right? Well, just wait until the plaster starts falling on your new carpet and the water runs down the walls and into your electrical outlets. What’s the price to fix it then? Unresolved conflict just gets worse over time. That’s why Matthew 5:25 says:
“Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way.”
I like that. On the way where? On the way anywhere. Wherever you run into the person. And how does it say to resolve it? Quickly.
In the context, Jesus is saying, “Settle it before you get to court. Or you’re going to get a verdict from the judge. The judge is going to turn you over to the guard and you’re going to be put in prison.”
I hear you say, “James, I don’t know what you’re talking about. People don’t go to jail anymore over argument.” Maybe not physically. But the world’s worst prison is the bitterness and unforgiveness you feel when you’re not rightly reconciled to another person. You say, “James, if you knew about the relationship that I’m thinking of right now, it’s not like you go one time to this person and get reconciled with them. This person makes me nuts everyweek.” Well, then, I guess you have a lifetime of reconciliation in front of you. I wonder what God would love to do to soften that person’s heart through the gracious, tenderness of Jesus expressed through you. God would love to do all that in the person that you’re thinking of just now.
This may seem like one of the hardest things you could ever do and in your own strength you would be right. That’s why God tells us to lean on Him (Proverbs 3:5–6). Do you think that if you were willing to obey God that He would make that obedience painful and difficult. No—He’ll not only provide the strength, He’ll also provide the peace.
Real healing, blessing, and joy only comes to those who do what God’s Word says. Determine this moment that you will obey Him in this very personal matter. Make that phone call today. Write a letter this week. Whatever you need to do, do it now. Might these words echo through our homes—“tender-heartedness, kindness, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven us” (Ephesians 4:32).
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