Godly people have to confront each other from time to time. How should Christians handle conflict? What causes church fights and splits? We will look at these issues from God’s Word.
Recently I got in a man’s face and confronted him about how he was damaging himself by his behavior. He wept and thanked me for talking to him. The next day, I had to speak directly to a situation in another man’s life. He had just gotten home from jail because he would not listen to my words of warning the first time and ended up getting in trouble. This was my second attempt to salvage him and his family. He turned on me and told me to leave and not come back.
Did I do the right thing with the first man and wrong thing with the second man? No, in all honesty before God, I approached both with strong Scriptural principles. I was not hateful or accusatory. My words hurt them both, but I did them no harm. Some people will accept correction, some will reject it. But I am my brother’s keeper and will not stand by while others destroy themselves.
Wisdom confronts, foolishness fights
Every week you encounter situations you need to confront someone. You should not become bug-eyed and angry. Just speak about the situation without insulting or accusing. If you do not, you are just building up a ground-swell of energy that will blow off someday with Mount St. Helens force.
Church business meetings exemplify this. People put up with something all year long and do not say anything. Finally, when given the floor, they bristle with so much impacted frustration that they harm others. If they did not like having two offerings on Sunday morning, why didn’t they go to those in leadership the first day it bothered them. Instead, a combined 52 weeks of discontent turns everyone sour in 52 seconds. Such immaturity causes fights and church splits.
While we must all confront on issues of importance, we must determine what is important.
Stand up for everyone’s best interest
Paul got in Peter’s face when the man came to Antioch and pretend to keep Jewish customs only when people from Jerusalem were in town. This was not a personal issue between Paul and Peter. Paul confronted him because he was misleading the whole church into hypocrisy. This is how Christians should handle conflict.
Usually, we fight only for self-interest. We are more concerned about our own happiness than anyone else’s. Noble people fight for a cause bigger than themselves. Small minds defend only their image or contentment. Paul later had to deal with some believers in Corinth who took each other to court. This was wrong because their selfish pursuit was giving the church a bad image in the community.
Have you ever wanted to bust someone in the face or scream at them because they made a fool of you? Parents get mad because their kids are not listening. Bosses yell because they feel ignored. A person takes another to court because they feel discriminated against. The selfishness of such scenarios is that the person who feels disrespected cares more about how people view them than how their actions impact others.
If I get fired up when someone lies behind my back or insults me to my face, I am thinking more highly of myself than I ought to think. Jesus did not get mad even when they slapped His face. He got angry when they disregarded the divine plan, not His self image.
Passion for pleasure creates fights
The church fight begins at the business meeting where heavy-duty Harry complains about the way the church is spending his offering money. Soon tensions heat up and you have a church split right down the middle of the newly carpeted sanctuary. How do we prevent conflict between Christians? By teaching Christianity. If we worked out our personal problems first, we would not combine them into a powder-keg of frustration.
James tells us where the real problem begins:
Where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you. You want things, but you cannot have them, so you are ready to kill; you strongly desire things, but you cannot get them, so you quarrel and fight. (4:1-2, GNB)
Conflict begins when two or more people what control of the same person, place, thing, or idea. Love begins when you share, when you realize you do not have to monopolize your church, family, or workplace.
Wisdom ends conflict between believers
Fool’s hearts are so full of garbage they can never be in harmony with pure-hearted people:
But if in your heart you are jealous, bitter, and selfish, don’t sin against the truth by boasting of your wisdom. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven; it belongs to the world, it is unspiritual and demonic. Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil. (James 3:14-16)
What spirit fills your home? What do you bring to your church? Although you cannot expect selflessness from the unsaved people in your life, you can do whatever it takes to leave peaceful with those in your workplace, school, or social group. Let love shine and win hearts not arguments.