The word for this week is 'CONFLICT'.
It is a word that has the potential to make you stronger or weaker. There is a phrase in a popular contemporary song today that says, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." That might well be a good testimonial of some who have faced conflict and came away stronger and wiser.
When it comes to conflict, people respond differently. Some skirt the issue hoping that it will just go away while others seem to revel in it. Neither is good nor acceptable. There are those that believe that a person should avoid conflict at all cost, even to the point of compromising core convictions. Consequently, their lives are often marked by flight. They flee at the first sign of conflict rather than facing it with courage under the control of the Holy Spirit. (Notice I said, 'under the control of the Holy Spirit')
Jesus faced conflict often in His earthly ministry. He was misunderstood and maligned by many who opposed Him personally as well as ministerially. Yet Jesus was never manipulated by it. He faced conflict with wisdom and courage. He managed it with care and compassion.
Boyd Bailey shares this from his devotional--'Two Minutes in the Bible for Men' --quote--
'Some perceive conflict as unspiritual but Jesus teaches it as spiritual. Healthy conflict is necessary for relational and spiritual growth. It is required to keep clean accounts with others and stay focused on kingdom priorities. Conflict resolution can be uncomfortable but if ignored, it can become ugly and even explosive.' --end quote
Nothing is more devastating to the body than a wound that is not 'cleaned out' or 'cared for' properly. One must first address the issue by acknowledging the need for care. And according to the directives of the Great Physician, the wounded is required to take the initiative and seek help. To refuse this invites infection that will first attack the body locally. If ignored, the infection can soon lead to poisoning the whole of the body, thus causing it to suffer severely. Therefore, conflict resolution must become a personal priority.
I heard a story several years ago about a man who suffered shipwreck and found himself entirely alone on a deserted island for many years. When found, his rescuers noticed 3 structures on the small island. Curious, one of the rescuers asked the castaway, what are those structures over there? The man responded, 'well the first one is my house. A man can't long survive without shelter. He needs somewhere to call home." The rescuer responded, "I understand that, but what about that second structure beside it?" The man replied, "That structure is the church I attend. After all, a person needs a place to worship." The rescuer responded again, "I agree completely." The rescuer then asked, "so tell me about that third structure. What's that?" The castaway responded, "Oh, I don't use that anymore. In fact, I haven't been in that structure in several years." The curious rescuer replied, "Why not?" The man responded, "Well, sir, that was the first church I attended when i first arrived before I got mad and moved my membership."
So long as we live in a tent of flesh, conflict will be inevitable. Internal conflict will soon lead to external. But conflict doesn't have to leave a debris trail of destruction in its path. When addressed with humility and 'dressed' properly with care and compassion, conflict can make the body stronger.
Paul gives us insight on the motivation of 'conflict resolution' when under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he writes in Philippians 2:3-4--
3 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."
Peter would support Paul in conflict resolution with these words-- 1 Peter 3:8-9
"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing."
That is the way potential foes are transformed into personal friends! And that's only one way that God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Reconciliation begins with turning conflict into a conversation. A conversation that is controlled by the Holy Spirit and filtered through the word of God. In this, we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us and lives in us by faith!
Don't allow conflict to kill your witness. Don't permit conflict to destroy His work in you and through you. Refuse to let conflict
poison the mind with the infection of bitterness. Address it quickly. Then 'dress' the wound properly. You'll see God heal it because He is able to take what was wounded and weak and make it strong through humble hearts that desire unity!
Praise the Lord today in matters that Satan intends for evil and God, in turn uses for good!
God's best always in your daily dealings with others!
1 Corinthians 15:58