Two thousand years ago in Corinth, Christians in the church were struggling to manage their relationships well. They were letting their conflicts divide them rather than unite them, and they needed some instruction on how to manage their relational conflicts well. Today, we face many of the same challenges within our relationships, and if we don’t equip ourselves to handle conflict well, we will allow our relationships to suffer and our church family won’t be much of a family at all. Thankfully, God offers us hope in I Corinthians 6, where He instructs the Corinthian church in how to manage their relational conflict well. Because we know that God wants us to experience deep, rich relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can glorify Him as we learn from His Word and apply it to our lives.
So, here’s ten steps for handling conflict well:
1 - See it coming. Having the right expectations will lessen your frustrations.
2 - Commit to forbearance. Understand that some sins can be forgiven without confrontation.
3 - Give the benefit of the doubt. Assuming others’ motives can increase your resentment.
4 - Go to the person. A hard conversation today can prevent an outburst tomorrow.
5 - Invite and welcome correction. Trust that others might have a better perspective than you.
6 - Do not cover disobedience with alternate language. Using modern counseling lingo to avoid repenting will only delay reconciliation.
7 - Avoid gossip and slander. “Venting” won’t benefit yourself, but processing the situation with a trusted friend will.
8 - Pour out your heart to God. God is our refuge, so pour out your heart in prayer.
9 - Forgive. Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
10 - Keep forgiving. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and forgive each other no matter how many times we sin against each other.
Although God has reconciled us to Him and each other in so many ways, we still sin against Him and each other, so we’ll have to learn to confront and forgive each other in order to be a Jesus-centered family on mission. Our culture teaches us that conflict is unnatural and that you should disconnect from relationships when they’re hard, but we know that this idea places an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation of relationships. As we grow together as a family, conflicts are inevitable, but our conflicts can bring us closer together if we commit to working through our frustrations when they arise. Conflict is a part of being a family, and if we forgive each other and reconcile with each other as God intended for us to do, we can experience deeper relationships, less drama, and more joy as we pursue God together.
If you’re in conflict with anyone, what next steps do you need to take?
What’s keeping you from reconciling immediately?
This article is based on the sermon “Death by Drama” by Adam Gibson from October 7, 2018.