Relationships 101 - Resolving Conflict
Relationships 101 – Resolving Conflict – 1 Peter 3:8-11
In a "Peanuts" cartoon, Lucy says to Snoopy: "There are times when you really bug me, but I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a big hug."
Snoopy replies: "That's the way I am . . . huggable and buggable."
And so it is with us and our relationships. We need each other, yet we annoy each other.
We are like the two porcupines that were huddled close together on a cold, cold night in northern Canada.
The closer they came into contact with each other in order to stay warm, the more their quills pricked each other, making it virtually impossible for them to remain side by side. Silently, they scooted apart. Before long, they were shivering in the wintry gale, so they came back together.
Soon both were poking and jabbing each other, so they separated again. Same story, same result. They needed each other, but they "needled" each other.
The truth is conflicts happen. Arguments and disagreements will always take place. The people to whom we are the closest are those with whom we experience the most conflict.
In friendships, we are off again and on again. Before marriage opposites attract, but after marriage opposites attack. In church, as the old saying goes: "We long to live in heaven, together in God's glory. To live together down on earth, well, that's another story."
Peter instructed, "All of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble" (1 Peter 3:8)
"All of you, live in harmony with one another." "All of you" pretty much covers everyone, doesn't it? No one can say "I'm exempt," or "it doesn't apply to me."
Conflict is inevitable. When more than two people come together the potential for disagreement increases. Any moving machine will experience friction. The goal in operating a machine is to reduce the friction as much as possible. This improves efficiency and prolongs life. The goal of any relationship is the same.
The following principles will help defuse conflict in relationships.
1. Walk-in another's shoes (v. 8a) – Humble yourself. - Humility is the key to conflict resolution. Without humility, it’s nearly impossible to resolve conflict.
Pride will keep you focused on the wrongs of the other person and your rightness (Prov. 12:15) - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.
Pride will cause you to nurse your offense. Pride will blind you to your own contribution to the conflict and keep you from restitution. Remember that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
Love and pride do not go together (1 Cor 13:4). Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.
So humble yourself under God’s mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6) and watch what He does. Ask, “How can I show humility in this situation, Lord?”
If you find yourself stuck in conflict and unable to resolve it, pride on one or both sides is probably keeping you stuck.
Paul was among the brightest of the Jewish religious group; a Pharisee regarding the law or being an expert in the law. He was on his way up before his Damascus Road experience (Acts 9). He was already in charge of rooting out the believers (Phil 3:6) as a young man. Paul had it all! But after knowing Christ, he wrote “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
A wise Indian once said, "I will not criticize my brother until I have walked a mile in his moccasins."
Habit 5 in Steven Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is the Indian saying in our language today, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
St. Francis of Assisi prayed, "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. . . . O Divine Master, grant that I may . . . not so much seek to be understood as to understand." We may not know all the reasons why the conflict has arisen, but trying to understand its roots is the first step in defusing it.
II. Remember you are on the same team (v. 8b). - Peter is saying that we are on the same team, we are in the same marriage, we are in the same family. We are brothers and sisters.
We don't compete with each other. We compliment each other. We minimize conflict by maximizing cooperation.
Teammates display three important actions that defuse conflict. Notice the three keywords here: Love, compassion, and humility.
· Love says I will lookout for the other's best interests. It says let's stop attacking each other and let's attack the problem.
· Compassion says let's not just talk about loving each other. Let's demonstrate that love by what we say and how we act toward each other.
· Humility says that love is not proud. It admits fault. It is honest about our weaknesses, our needs, and our failures. It uses these phrases often: I need your help, I was wrong, forgive me.
James 1:19-20 says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Often, when we get into conflict, our natural instincts want our voices to be heard. We want to speak our mind or get somethings off our chest.
But that is not entirely scriptural according to James 1. When you get together, listen. Start by asking, “What have I done to hurt you?” Lead with a question, rather than sharing everything on your mind.
This takes discipline, self-control, and humility. Be quick to listen! In every conflict there are usually elements of truth on both sides, so identify the true statements, rather than just listening with your mind focused on how to reject the false statements.
III. Give a blessing (v. 9) - In any relationship, there will be times of disagreement and conflict. At those times we face a choice: reciprocate with retaliation and revenge, or respond with a blessing. Conflict is like a small fire, next to which each person stands to hold two buckets.
One bucket is filled with gasoline, the other with water. Which bucket do we throw on the fire? In real life, our buckets are filled with words - words of hostility, anger, and abuse, or words of acceptance, value, and kindness.
The world says, "Get even. Throw the bucket of gasoline on the fire and watch it spread." The Bible says, "Give a blessing. Throw the bucket of water on the fire and put it out."
Unfortunately, many will want to hold out and say "your wrong and I’m right." You may have said things like "I am not apologizing"… However, you must remember it takes two tango.
Identify your contribution to the problem. What could you have done better? Where did you offend?
Don’t automatically jump to defend yourself against misunderstandings or lies. Start with your responsibility and own up to your part. Admit your fault and repent.
Again, humility is the key here. Will you humble yourself? Say with sincerity, “I regret that I did that and I’m sorry. Would you please forgive me?”
Asking for forgiveness gives the other person the opportunity to respond and presents them with a choice to make. Now pause and listen. And consider that everyone has blind spots.
Perhaps you are being confronted with a blind spot, and the very thing that God wants to show you is hidden in the offensive words being shared with you.
V. Pursue peace (v. 11) The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that firefighters in Genoa, Texas, were accused of deliberately setting more than 40 destructive fires. When caught, they stated, "We had nothing to do. We just wanted to get the red lights flashing and the bells clanging."
The job of firefighters is to put out fires, not start them. The job of peacemakers is to resolve and defuse conflict, not start fights.
To do that, we must pursue peace with a passion in our relationships. Peacemakers don't wring their hands when conflict arises and say, "I don't care." That is apathy.
Peacemakers don't stick their heads in the sand. That is avoidance. Peacemakers don't let people have their own way while avoiding confrontation. That is appeasement.
Peacemakers intentionally seek reconciliation. They agree to disagree agreeably.
Conclusion- The most important thing to do is to put Jesus at the very center of all you say, think and do. Surrender yourself to Jesus in every way.
He asks you, “Will you lay down your life for me?” (John 13:38) Bathe the situation in prayer for humility, love, grace, unity, forgiveness, and truth. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance at each moment.
Pray against the evil one, lies, pride, disunity, division, selfishness, self-deception, unforgiveness. Ask God to give you His heart and to see through His eyes. Pray for the other brother or sister (Luke 6:27).
Remember when bull elephants fight, the grass always loses.
When husbands and wives are in conflict – the marriage suffers – the family suffers
When parents and their children are in conflict – the home suffers
When the church is in conflict – the community around it suffers!
In the end, why should we defuse conflict? It shows that we belong to God. Did not God choose to walk in our shoes by coming to this earth?
Did not God demonstrate his love for us by going to a cross to die for us? Did not God give us a blessing by granting us abundant and eternal life?
Did not God take the initiative to bring lost sinners to the Father, reconciling them, as a peacemaker?
Be like Christ!