Conflicts can be controversial, stressful, and draining. Whenever there is a conflict, it is essential for Christians to have proper biblical conflict resolution. Conflict resolution needs to be practiced by all people because conflicts cannot be left untreated.
Conflicts have to be resolved in order for relationships, work environments, and churches to once again have peace. If conflicts are left unresolved, problems, broken relationships, and bitterness can grow.
The Bible Plus Conflict Resolution
God wants us to resolve conflicts. He does not want us to let disputes, arguments, and conflicts fester and grow worse. Biblical conflict resolution is shown to us in many ways in the Bible. The major example of biblical conflict resolution in the Bible is how Jesus provides conflict resolution for us by repairing our broken relationship with the Father.
The Apostle Paul speaks of Jesus’ conflict resolution in his first letter to the Corinthians, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
God does not want us to remain in conflict with others. Instead, God wants us to be reconciled to one another and to have peace. The Father is very passionate about conflict resolution, which is why He went to great lengths to reconcile us to Himself through His Son. Ever since the Fall of Man, every single person has a broken relationship with God because of sin.
Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” The only way to fix the broken relationship is to place faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10). When we place faith in Jesus, we are reconciled to the Father, given forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.
Conflict resolution contains great things if done correctly. If a believer comes across a conflict, they need to do their best to alleviate the conflict. If the offense is small or not too harmful, the Bible tells us to overlook the offense as instructed in Proverbs 19:11.
In other words, if a person offends you, you need to forgive them and not hold it against the person. For this type of conflict resolution, you would overlook the small offense and choose to not bring it up to the person ever again (Ibid.). This type of conflict resolution is biblical; however, it should only be used for minor offenses and not for more harmful or hurtful offenses.
Major offenses of conflict need to be understood from a different light. The Bible gives us information concerning proper conflict resolution for more difficult, harmful, or heavy conflicts. For these types of conflicts, we are not told to overlook these offenses, but rather to confront them.
The reason to confront the person who offended you is to restore a right relationship with them again (Ibid.). Conflict resolutions are not about proving who is right or who is wrong. The ultimate goal of biblical conflict resolution is to restore the relationship between the two individuals.
The steps to conflict resolution are given to us by Jesus in Matthew 18:15-17. These steps normally refer to church discipline; however, they can also be used in reference to proper biblical conflict resolution.
The first step of conflict resolution according to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18:15 is to first take the individual who offended you privately and tell the individual what they did wrong. If they listen to you and ask forgiveness for their offense, the conflict has been resolved.
The second step of resolution is to include two other confidants if the individual does not listen to you after you have shown him or her their fault in private between the two of you. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:16, “But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’”
This step goes beyond private interaction between two individuals as this type of conflict resolution includes bringing other believers into the conversation. Other Christian friends, family members, or therapists can even be brought in as the “one or two others” in order to achieve conflict resolution.
If this second step of conflict resolution fails, the last option is told to us by Jesus in Matthew 18:17, “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
The aim here is that the offending individual will be convicted by the Holy Spirit, confess their sins, repent, and restore relationships with the other believers. If the person does not agree to these forms of conflict resolution, Jesus tells us to treat the individual as “a pagan or tax collector” (Matthew 18:17).
If the individual comes back in time asking for forgiveness and yearning for conflict resolution, we should forgive them and restore our relationship with them. It is not good nor wise to hold grudges or hatred toward others.
Looking in the Mirror
It is common for us to quickly pick out the flaws, shortcomings, and sins of others, but when it comes to ourselves, we are more likely to rationalize our actions. Before we can have proper biblical conflict resolution, we have to examine ourselves.
As rightly stated by the writers at Compelling Truth, “We should humbly assess our own contribution to the conflict and correct our own behavior and attitude before trying to point out someone else's shortcomings.”
We are to look at, access, and remove the plank from our own eye before we can help achieve conflict resolution with another person (Matthew 7:1-5). If you steal, you cannot help resolve conflict with another person who steals.
Likewise, if you lie, you cannot help achieve conflict resolution with another individual who lies. As stated by Paul in Romans 2:21, “You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?” We have to first access ourselves and see if we are being humble in our conflict resolutions.
When we are trying to extend biblical conflict resolution, we need to do everything with a spirit of kindness, compassion, and love. Conflict resolutions should not be done out of hostility, anger, or pride. Biblical conflict resolution is seeking out restoration of relationships and peace to return to the relationship.
Just as Jesus resolved our conflict with the Father, we should seek out ways to help achieve conflict between our own family and friends. We should never actively seek out a conflict; however, when an issue arises, we should do our best to resolve the matter quickly with a heart of humbleness, compassion, and love.
Jesus calls us to be peacemakers in the hectic world (Matthew 5:9). We will be blessed if we try to make peace between conflicting parties. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Biblical conflict resolution can be achieved through obeying the Bible, listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and cultivating a heart of humility, compassion, and love.
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Andrii Yalanskyi
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.
Video stock video and music probided by SoundStripe