Responding to Conflict

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In Small Group, we are going over Ken Sande’s book, The Peacemaker. We just started it this past Sunday but it has already returned positive dividends in my life. We discussed different tendencies that we have in response to conflict. Then we talked about what a biblical response looks like. On one side of the spectrum, there’s denial, flight, and suicide, and on the other is assault, litigation, and murder. In between, you have various biblical responses. I, for one, can range almost anywhere on the continuum. I tend to want to attack in some areas of my life where in other areas I just want to deny the existence of any problem altogether. So what is the biblical response?

Well, to be honest the question is not cut and dry. However, there are biblical principles that can be employed to guide us through conflict. Let’s look at the four G’s of a biblical response to conflict:

  1. Glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). Ask how you can please and honor God through the conflict.
  2. Get the log out of your own eye (Matt. 7:5). Ask how you can show Jesus’ work in you by taking responsibility for your contribution to the conflict.
  3. Gently restore (Gal. 6:1). Ask how you can lovingly serve others by helping them take responsibility for their contribution to the conflict (Make sure you’re practicing #2 here!).
  4. Go and be reconciled (Matt. 5:24). Ask how you can demonstrate the forgiveness of God and encourage a reasonable solution to the conflict.

The foundational “G” that we must always keep in mind is The Gospel of Christ (1 Tim. 1:15). We must remember God work of forgiveness and reconciliation and forgive and reconcile in light of the Gospel (cf. Matt. 18:21-35).

Ken Sande, in The Peacemaking Church study guide, shows God’s response to conflict:

“The gospel of Christ is God’s perfect response to mankind’s sin, rebellion and conflict with him. God overlooks and bears our sin with great patience (Ps. 103:10-18; Acts 17:30; Rom. 9:22-24), withholding judgment and offering forgiveness and reconciliation in spite of our many offenses against him. The cost for this mercy was immeasurably great; however, God sent his Son to serve as both mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) and sacrificial lamb. Jesus went on trial in our place, submitting to civil and religious litigation, was convicted for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21), and suffered the flogging, death and separation (assault and murder) that we deserve (Mark 15:34). The gospel is the most wonderful and yet costly and painful response to conflict the world has ever seen.

Through the gospel, God has modeled the Four G’s of peacemaking perfectly. He revealed the glory of grace. Although Jesus was without sin, he took our sins as his own, paying for them on the cross. He has shown us our sin and gently restored us. By going from heaven to earth, from earth to the cross, from the cross to the grave, and from the grave to glory, he has secured eternal reconciliation for all who will trust in him” (p. 63).

When we meditate on God’s response to conflict it gives us encouragement as we seek to forgive and reconcile (cf. Matt. 18:21-35).