How to Handle Conflict in a God-Honoring Way

Advice from the Bible on How to Handle Conflict in a Healthy Way

Biblically-Informed Strategies for Handling Conflict

Marriage, the workplace, friendships, and family all present opportunities for conflict.
Since it’s so inevitable, it often occurs when you least expect it.
If you and your husband are on the way to church and a fight breaks out, you might as well just stay home.
Has this ever rung a bell for you?
You and your loved ones are on your way to the house of God to engage in a spiritual activity that has been shown to increase one’s level of spiritual maturity and character development, and then trouble arises.

My wife and I are savvy enough to avoid this trap by traveling in different vehicles.

Selfishness is a common root cause of conflict since ultimately, we all just want what we want.

What exactly is it that leads you to argue with one another?
Surely they spring from your own conflicting inclinations.
You long for something, but it eludes you (James 4:1).

Even the smallest details of our daily lives reveal this truth.
The air conditioning in our car is divided into two zones, and so are the electric blankets.
This is why people debate whether the toilet seat should be left up or down and whether towels should be folded in half or in thirds.
What should we do when our choices and judgments are based on what’s easiest for us?
Selfishness is endemic to the human nature, so showing consideration for others can feel like a struggle.

The truth is that most of us aren’t very good at dealing with tension.
Indeed, we humans have developed some really unique and unusual ways of incorrectly dealing with conflict.

Avoiding confrontation through silence (I’m fine!) is known as “the quiet treatment.”
Of fact, Paul states in Galatians 6:2 that this is not a biblical approach to conflict resolution:

By bearing one another’s burdens, we are obeying Christ’s commandment.

What David described in the Psalms is what happens when we avoid dealing with conflict.

For far too long I’ve borne this mountain of worry and felt the ache of anguish in my gut (Psalm 13:12).

Each passing year is signaled by a deep sigh, and each passing groan marks the passing of another year in my life.
I’m completely spent; my worries have ground my bones to powder (Psalm 31:10).

Inaudible Exchanges

Who among us has not “had it out” with someone behind their back, without them hearing a word we had to say?
And it seems that Christians’ favorite manner of praying for our enemies is to have unseen debates based on the Bible.

However, the Bible does not advocate for this method of conflict resolution.
The Bible, on the other hand, encourages us to approach the other person and speak things out.
This includes refraining from sending anonymous emails, spreading rumors, sowing discord, or humiliating people subtly in any way.

If a Christian brother or sister wrongs you, you should confront that person and try to resolve the issue on your own.
It’s a friend if he listens (Matthew 18:15).

The Art of Flat-Out Lying

Perhaps we will enter a state of denial and try to forget the suffering.
We continue living as if resolving the disagreement or rectifying the wrongs of the past is not important.
Do you know, though, what happens if you choose to ignore the discomfort?
The same terrible emotional and physical harm is caused by ignoring the situation.

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This Approach Is Volcanic

However, some people respond to confrontation by becoming extremely angry, or “volcanic,” and completely oblivious to the results of their actions.
Although giving in to rage for a while may feel good, it never ends well and is a terrible conflict resolution strategy.
This is not a biblical way to deal with an argument, either.

To paraphrase, “‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go set on your rage, nor give place to the devil.
Let the thief no longer take, but rather work, making something excellent with his hands so he can share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your lips, but only what is helpful for building people up in their faith and character.
Do not irritate the Spirit of God, in whom you have been sealed for the day of redemption.
Remove from yourself any ill will, animosity, hostility, blasphemy, or malicious speech.
And be kind toward one another, quick to forgive, just as Christ God has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:26-32).

You might win a fight if you take a volcanic approach and let it all out on your opponent, but you’ll probably lose a buddy in the process, as the Bible warns us.
The volcanic method gives the devil a foothold in your life, which may be even more devastating than the risk for shattered relationships and a tarnished Christian witness.
It opens the door for the devil to take what is rightfully yours in Christ, such as good health, material prosperity, emotional fulfillment, and harmonious relationships at home.

The Approach of the Missile

The missile technique, which downplays the significance of harsh remarks, is a near relative of the volcano approach.
Accusations, deceptions, slanders, manipulations, betrayals, and even gossip can all do significant damage if they are stated hurriedly in the heat of an argument.

The tongue, albeit little, may deliver mighty orations.
However, a single ember is all it takes to ignite a vast woodland.
The tongue, however, is a veritable inferno.
It’s an entire underworld, and it corrupts your body from the inside out.
It can ignite your entire existence because it is fueled by the fires of hell (James 3:5-6).

This is not a God-honoring way to deal with disagreement.
Instead, we are admonished to pursue peace in God’s Word.

The saying goes, “Fools start battles everywhere; sensible persons attempt to keep peace” (Proverbs 29:8, LB).

“Make every effort to get along with your neighbors” (Psalm 34:14, LB).

To pursue peace, one must not ignore the root of the trouble or give in to pressure from others.
If you try to appease someone, they’ll only dislike you more, and then you’ll have an even bigger fight on your hands.
The Bible offers sound guidance on how to deal with dispute, and it has nothing to do with “sinking the other person’s battleship.”
But first and foremost, we have to make a conscious effort to be proactive and intentional.

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P-Plan a Peace Summit Agenda

Don’t avoid confrontation; instead, talk things out with the other person.
However, prayer should be the first step in organizing a peace conference.
Before approaching a person with whom we are at odds, we should pray for guidance and clarity from God.

“O God, you know my heart; you have tested and tried my thoughts” (Psalm 139:23, LB).

It’s good for us to spend time with God, asking for His guidance in recognizing our flaws and gaining insight into our own motivations.
When we can admit to ourselves what they did or said that was harmful to contribute to the conflict, we have won half the war.
Once we have asked for and received God’s forgiveness, we may truly forgive others.

If you find out your brother is holding a grudge against you, you should go to him right away to make up (Matthew 5:24).

You’ll need more fortitude and determination to take that initial step the longer you put it off.

E – Empathize

“Have compassion on one another; love one another humbly and with a soft heart” (1 Peter 3:8).

So, what exactly does it mean to put yourself in another person’s shoes?
Make an effort to put yourself in the other person’s shoes when you sit down to speak things out with your spouse, coworker, teenager, workplace partner, or friend.

“Do nothing from a position of selfish ambition or haughty self-importance; rather, in humility value others as more important than yourself.
You should consider not only your own best interests, but the interests of those around you as well.
Following the example of Christ, who while he was God in the flesh, humbled himself by taking the form of a servant and being born in human likeness, is the attitude you should adopt.
To validate his humanity, Jesus Christ took the form of a man and humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a crucifixion (Philippians 2:3-8).

Paul’s advice is crystal clear: put aside selfishness, which is the source of strife.
Putting the needs of others above our own, regardless of whether they are reasonable, fair, or deserving.
Try to put yourself in their position; try to understand the world as they do.
Like Jesus did when He came to Earth, we need to consciously step out of our own heads and try to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person.

A – Focus on the Issue, Not the Individual

Here are some guidelines for fighting our own fights the right way, according to God, by taking the fight to the issue rather than the person.

It is not advisable to spark a military conflict.

Stop making comparisons and asking “why can’t you be like…”
or “you remind me of…”

Reduce the Level of Agitation: Avoid absolutes like “you should be ashamed of yourself,” “you always,” and “it’s all your fault.”

Avoid Issuing Orders: Throwing around phrases like “you have to do what I say” is a certain way to get your way ignored.

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Never Make an Officer Feel Threatened: Don’t make threats because you want to “just try that and see what happens!”

People shouldn’t be treated like privates: Never use phrases like “just trust me,” “I know why you do that,” or “don’t be silly.”

Never Go Against a Brother Soldier: Avoid cutting someone off in the middle of a statement. Exhibit some deliberation and patience by waiting your turn to speak.

Stop Acting Like a Historian of Wars Already Finished: Bringing up old issues is not a good idea.
Keep the fighting where it is and focused on the problem at hand. Hold your ground. Finding tranquility takes effort.
Don’t give in to appeasement, and don’t bail on the peace talks. Don’t give up; just keep plugging away at it until you get there. Take a break if you need to, then return to your prayers.

Give Up!

When you are mistaken, let go of your stubborn insistence on being right. The Christian and mature thing to do when you recognize you’re wrong is to surrender. Make amends by accepting responsibility for your actions and apologizing to the person you hurt.

C – Maximize your level of cooperation

Take the initiative to seek out places where you may reach a compromise, or common ground.

Put forth all efforts to maintain amity and cooperation with all human beings (Romans 12:8).

E – Focus on Repair, Not Fixing

God has entrusted us with the task of bringing people together (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Even though Paul was primarily concerned with spreading the gospel, the principles he lays out in this verse are applicable to every connection we have and to the way God wants us to live.
The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, although they serve quite different purposes. Reconciliation refers to mending fences after a fight, while resolution addresses all of the underlying problems that led to the fight in the first place.
However, the truth is that not every problem can be fixed.
God purposely designed us all with our own unique set of characteristics and traits.
When we put our attention on the connection between us, the problems seem less pressing and not worth risking the end of the friendship over.

Christlike Conflict Resolution

What are the benefits of pursuing peace and resolving conflicts in accordance with God’s instructions?
Firstly, God assures us of a long and fruitful life.

Does anyone aspire to enjoy a long and fruitful life? Don’t let your words harm others or mislead anyone.
Don’t give up to bad and start doing good.
Try to find harmony and do everything you can to keep it going (Psalm 34:12-14, NLT).

The pursuit of true tranquility ultimately rewards us with a fulfilling existence.
Aiming for calm helps us stay robust, healthy, joyful, productive, and hopeful.
It’s proof that God the Father is who He says He is and that the Christian religion is accurate.

“Blessed are those who work for peace; for they shall be called sons of God,” the Bible says (Matthew 5:9).

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