We all deal with conflict in our lives, whether it is in the workplace, or with family and friends. The way we handle our conflicts will define our relationships and our lives. Oftentimes, our instinct is to avoid such conflicts and pretend that they do not exist. This is when they will end up keeping us up at night; thinking about how they will play out, how the other person will respond, and what the overall outcome will be. The sooner the conflict is confronted, the quicker it can be resolved.
We learn in Genesis chapter 22 that God will test us, but will not tempt us. God gives Abraham a test to see how faithful he would be. Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, though he did not want to do this, he felt he had to. Abraham passed God’s test, and was blessed with many descendants. As an aside the story is an interesting foreshadowing of God sacrificing his own son, Jesus, for our salvation.
God will test us in our lives as well, and sometimes a difficult situation is a test from God. It is important to know the difference between a test from God and temptation from Satan. Tests usually come after a blessing in your life, since it is easy to serve and follow God when things are going well. Tests will help you build confidence and character while drawing you closer to God. Temptations drive a wedge between us and God, and are often set up as entrapment or enticement to pull you away from what you know is good. The way we handle the tests that God puts before us will define our character and refine our lives.
Conflicts in relationships are often tests, to see how we can handle ourselves as children of God’s Kingdom.
Here are some practical steps to help handle such conflicts:
- Pray for the person in conflict. But I tell you: Love your enemiesand pray for those who persecute you, –Matthew 5:44
- Engage in face-to-face conversations. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. –Ephesians 4:15
- Handle the conflict quickly, and do not delay the inevitable. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, –Ephesians 4:25-26
- Take the initiative to reconcile. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. –Matthew 5:23-24
- Do not take your conflict public before confronting it in private, and do not involve more people than necessary. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ –Matthew 18:15-16
- Keep in mind that severing a relationship may be best for everyone involved.
When conflicts are handled correctly it pleases God, and allows you to sleep easier at night.