“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go on your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24).
Had any good conflicts lately? No, I don’t mean any conflicts, I mean good conflicts. In other words, there was something that needed to be addressed, and, as much as it depended on you, things went well.
Part of the reason we hate conflict is because, generally, they go so poorly. But maybe we just aren’t doing it very well. Below is a seven-step process for handling conflict based on God’s principles. Take a look and see how it compares to how you deal with someone who has hurt you:
1. Have they sinned against you or did you just want them to do something differently? So you’re upset about something, and you want to go talk to the person. But before you start a conflict, ask yourself, “Did they do something wrong?” Often we go to a person and act as if they’ve done something wrong when really they just haven’t done what we wanted them to do. “I’m mad because you don’t want to see the movie I want to see.” Uh, that isn’t a sin; it is a difference of opinion. Try having a conflict with someone who insists you are wrong just because you aren’t doing what they want. It won’t go very well. So don’t be that person. Differences of opinion require compromise not conflict.
2. Have the courage to address the problem-directly. OK, so you believe the person has done something wrong and you need to address it. So, go ahead and address it … with them. This means you don’t share it with everyone in the world except them. And it means you don’t try to address it by sneak attack, passively sliding it into a conversation so they’ll figure it out. If they’ve done something wrong, God wants you to go talk to them, directly. Try this, “There is something that has been bothering me and I’d like to work through it.” Nice and direct.
3. Don’t sin in your anger. Let’s imagine that you are absolutely correct, this person has wronged you and you are completely innocent. So you start to talk to them. At first things are going great; you are patient but firm. But then something they say honks you off and you start calling them names.
Uh oh, now things are getting really messy.
There was nothing wrong with being angry. Anger is not a sin. The problem is how we handle it. God wants us to be under control with our anger. But if we aren’t careful we can lose our cool. Even though we came into the conflict totally innocent, now we aren’t. Stay under control in a conflict. If you can’t, take a break and come back. Losing your temper just makes a bigger mess.