Conflict…the plight of the ages.
My husband tells me conflict is “confessing another’s sin instead of your own!” It happens more often than we want. It often comes when least expecting it. It can be planned and contrived for personal benefit. It is unspeakable if entered for selfish purposes. It speaks its own ugly language. It brings with it a sense of rejection. It leaves a taste of loneliness if unresolved. It defies common sense. It strengthens selfish resolve. It denies truth. It stands in the way of peace and unity. You have to sacrifice your peace with God to be a participant in it. It divides friends and fellowship. It has no godly purpose or end. It separates all that is good and emphasizes the negative. It wounds the Spirit. It brings with it depression and failure. It lies to us about our value. It leaves us discouraged…
Ever been there?
Who hasn’t? What causes conflict and how can we avoid it?
If everything has a purpose…what is the purpose of conflict? Is there anything redeemable in a clash of wills? The Word of God is filled with conflicts and resolutions. I don’t have to look far to find God’s mind on the subject of conflict. Psalms 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, records David’s prayer in the midst of conflict. The first four verses express a promise and a goal. “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statues and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways.” Then comes the conflict. “You (God) have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your degrees! Then I would not be put to shame...”
Conflict is a direct result of not fearing and obeying God. His Word clearly records my responsibility (vs. 12-40). My failure to follow His instruction results in conflict. My response to a conflict reveals my true character and my relationship with God(Verses 41-48). Conflict is my signal that I have violated a very simple scriptural principle. I have ceased to fear and obey God!
There are varying types of conflict from wars among societies to crossed wills with a two year-old child! We are specifically addressing conflicts in relationships with an emphasis on how can I avoid a conflict!?
While at Bible School someone asked me if I believed in “personality conflicts”. It was certainly a common phenomenon on campus and in the dorms and the question was thought provoking.
What do you think?
If I am walking in the Spirit in all the light I have and you are also, can there be a conflict? Not likely. There will instead be deference and understanding of one another. However, if one of us, or both of us, is not walking in the light of God’s Word we can count on conflict! Both of us want our own way! We have sacrificed our peace for conflict! What a destructive exchange! Harmony is the absence of unsettled offenses. “A genuine confession is explaining how I have failed so that God will not be blamed for the consequences”.
Years ago Ralph gave me a verse that I quote to myself often when tempted to enter into conflict…It goes like this: ”Great peace have they that love Thy law and NOTHING shall offend them (or make them stumble)”. Psa. 119:165 That means that NOTHING (or no one) has the power to bring offense that I would choose to accept. There is no excuse for anger, self-protection or division. “Great peace have they…” The choice is to maintain my peace and walk in the light or choose all the negatives that come with conflict!
Which do you choose most often?
As Moms, our children are busy reading us while we are communicating with one another. What do they hear? The purpose of conflict is to teach us the power of the peace of God in our lives. To sacrifice peace for conflict is disobedience against our Creator and demonstrates the lack of fear we have of the consequence that comes with every act against His will.
The next time you are given a choice, which will you choose?
“… my heart will be blameless toward your decrees, that I may not be put to shame…I put my hope in your Word.” ! Psa. 119: 6-11.
~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America. Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California. My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights.