DIVINE GUIDELINES FOR RESOLVING CONFLICTS
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1 Corinthians 6:1-2 NKJV)
The believers in Christ are not only called to pursue holiness, but also to pursue peace with all people.
Hebrews 12:14 – NKJV
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
Psalms 34:14 – NKJV
14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.
While you may not always be able to prevent a conflict or disagreement with someone from happening; however, you can always prevent it from degenerating to malice, bitterness or resentment by seeking to resolve it quickly.
Many breakups we see today in relationships, marriages and churches are terrible consequences of failure or negligence to diligently pursue peace by seeking to resolve conflicts quickly following God’s guidelines in the Bible.
Truly, there are difficult people or trouble-makers in the world that will frustrate all your attempts to resolve conflicts with them quickly as you desire.
This is why the Scripture admonishes, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18 NKJV).
When a believer has a conflict, dispute or disagreement with another believer, the Scripture offers some guidelines on how to resolve the conflict quickly and amicably.
Regrettably, many believers today pay no attention to these divine guidelines for resolving conflicts, thereby allowing the devil to exploit small conflicts to wreck great havocs in their lives, relationships, marriages, or homes.
It is indeed wisdom to pursue peace when there is a conflict or disagreement between you and your brother or sister in Christ following the guidelines and instructions taught by the Lord Jesus. These guidelines are clearly spelt out in Matthew 18:15-17.
Matthew 18:15-17 – NKJV
15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
16 “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
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17 “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
Let us examine carefully these divine guidelines for resolving conflicts quickly between believers.
First, seek first to resolve the conflict personally or privately:
The Lord Jesus taught that you must first seek to resolve your conflict with your fellow believer personally or privately, without any involvement of the third party.
Jesus said, “Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone…” (Matt. 18:15 NKJV).
When Jesus said, “you and him alone,” He really means without you informing, involving, or reporting to any other persons.
Therefore, it is scripturally wrong to invite the third party into the conflict that you have not made any real personal effort to resolve privately.
Many marriages, good relationships or friendships today have been ruined or shattered by the immediate involvement or intervention of the third party in the conflict.
It is wisdom to heed the Lord’s instruction and admonition that you must first personally and diligently pursue peace between you and your fellow believer with whom you have a dispute or conflict.
Second, if all your diligent efforts to resolve a conflict between you and your brother/sister in Christ personally or privately fail, then involve one or two mature believers:
There are times when all your sincere personal efforts or attempts to privately resolve the conflict or disagreement between you and your brother/sister in the Lord may not yield any good result.
When this happens, the Lord Jesus instructed, “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Matt. 18:16 NKJV).
However, it is not everybody that is suitable to involve in resolving conflict between two believers.
What sort of person should you involve in resolving a conflict between you and a fellow believer?
Firstly, the person you involve to resolve a conflict must also be a true born-again believer.
Secondly, the person should not be a stranger to both of you. It must be someone that both of you know, respect or hold in high esteem.
Thirdly, the person should be older, more matured and experienced in life and faith than both of you.
Besides, it is better to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you to the right person He has chosen and prepared to resolve the conflict between you and your brother/sister in the Lord.
Involving wrong people in resolving a conflict can aggravate or complicate the conflict and thus ruin a good relationship.
Third, if all the efforts to resolve the conflict between two believers both privately and by intervention of one or two mature believers fail to yield any good result, then Jesus commanded that the Church should be involved:
The Lord Jesus said, “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church…” (Matt. 18:17 NKJV).
The Church, not the law court, is the last and ultimate port of call in resolving conflicts among God’s people.
Paul sharply rebuked the Christians at Corinth who took their conflicts to the court of law.
1 Corinthians 6:1-3 – NKJV
1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?
It is a shame for a Christian to drag another Christian to the court of law to settle any conflict or dispute between them.
The Scripture teaches that it is better for you to accept wrong or to be cheated than to drag your fellow Christian before the unbelievers to settle the conflict between you and him/her.
Paul rebuked the Christians at Corinth for doing this.
1 Corinthians 6:5-7 – NKJV
5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?
6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
Finally, the Lord Jesus said, “But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” (Matt. 18:17 NKJV).
What does this mean?
It simply means that while you should forgive and bear no grudge or resentment against the believer who has refused to hear, obey or submit to the Church’s verdict on the conflict, you should separate yourself from such a person.
It is no longer proper for you to have fellowship with such a person. You should relate with him as you do to an unbeliever!
2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14 – NKJV
6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.
Any believer who rejects or despises the Church leadership’s verdict on any conflict brought before the Church has rejected and despised God’s rule and order (Deut. 17:8-10).
Beloved, seek earnestly to pursue peace with all people, but when conflict arises, seek to resolve it promptly, following carefully the guidelines the Lord Jesus has given us in the Scripture.
Moreover, whenever you are called upon to intervene in any conflict between two believers, show no partiality, speak the truth in love, and seek to restore the erring brother/sister in the spirit of meekness (Jam. 2:9, 3:17, Exo. 23:3, Deut. 1:17).
The Scripture admonishes:
Galatians 6:1-2 – NKJV
1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
James 2:1 – NKJV
1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.
Matthew 5:9 – NKJV
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me today how to pursue peace and resolve conflicts when they arise. Dear Holy Spirit, teach me to pursue peace with all people and when conflicts arise, help me to resolve them quickly Jesus’ ways, in Jesus’ name. Amen.