If there is one thing in this world that is completely inevitable, it’s conflict and fighting. And as followers of Christ, knowing how to handle conflict in a Godly manner should be one of our top priorities.
We live in a fallen cosmos, and we ourselves have a fallen nature. That alone should explain why conflict exists at every level of human society. When two or more individuals interact long enough, you can guarantee that conflict will arise soon enough.
At home, in school, in the workplace — wherever you go, there is conflict. Some minor, others so serious that they have the potential to bring nations to war against each other.
We cannot avoid conflict, but as Christians, we can choose how to respond whenever one arises. Learning how to handle conflict in a Godly manner is crucial because it not only provides us with an opportunity to mature but opens the door for us to spread God’s love.
What the Bible says about Conflict
Since the fall of man, conflicts have been part of the cosmos. One of the first examples of conflicts in the Bible can be seen between Cain and Abel. The story of these two men teaches us that conflict can arise from many things, and in the case of Cain, it was jealousy that caused him to murder his brother.
James spoke of this when he wrote, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder” (James 4:1-2).
If we rewind the story further back into the garden, we will discover that God said of Eve, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
Here, we can see conflict as a part of God’s curse immediately after Adam and Eve disobeyed by touching the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
From here, everything turned into a downward spiral. The good news is that the Bible shows us how to handle conflict in a Godly manner. There are several verses that address conflict and how we should handle it as followers of Christ, and why it’s important to seek peace and reconciliation.
So, while conflict will always be a part of our lives, the Word of God shows us steps on how to deal with them in a Christlike manner.
The Dangers of Unrighteous Anger
As a human emotion, anger in itself is neither good nor evil. It is what it is, an emotion. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
However, when we allow unrighteous anger to control us, that’s when conflicts arise.
Allowing anger to control us can have negative consequences on both an individual and a societal level. On an individual level, anger can lead to impulsive and harmful behaviors, such as verbal or physical aggression, which can damage relationships and cause harm to others. It can also lead to negative physical and emotional effects on the person experiencing the anger, such as increased stress, anxiety, and depression.
On a societal level, anger that is not effectively managed can contribute to a culture of conflict and violence. It can also create an atmosphere of mistrust and division, leading to further conflicts and misunderstandings.
It is important to recognize that it is normal to experience anger, and it can be a healthy and appropriate emotion in some situations. However, it is important to learn how to manage anger healthily and productively rather than to allow it to control our behavior and actions. This may involve seeking help from a mental health professional or learning techniques for managing emotions and resolving conflicts.
Practical Ways to Handle Conflict in a Godly Manner
Here are a few practical ways to handle conflict in a godly manner:
Pray for wisdom and guidance.
Asking for God’s help can provide perspective and help us approach the conflict with a more open and loving heart. Never attempt to deal with conflict on your own. Even if you’re a Christian with a renewed heart, your reliance should be upon God and not your own strength. Praying can also be an opportunity for you to introspect and ask God to show you where you might have gone wrong. It’s the best time to confess your sins and ask God to give you clarity.
Seek to understand the other person’s perspective.
A conflict involves two parties. You may be tempted to point fingers and emphasize that you are right and the other person is wrong. However, if you wish to learn how to handle conflict in a Godly manner, you need to let go of your biases. This means listening to the other person’s concerns and trying to see things from their point of view.
Communicate openly and honestly.
The keyword here is “openly.” Share your own thoughts and feelings in a way that is respectful and non-accusatory. It’s important never to gossip about someone you are in conflict with. If you wish to solve the problem immediately, talk to the person and address the issue head-on. Proverbs 11:13 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence.” Even if what you gossip about is true, divulging sensitive information to those who are not involved in the issue in the first place will stir up the conflict further.
Seek to resolve the conflict rather than winning the argument.
It’s easy to get tempted to argue for the sake of proving your point. However, doing so will only make matters worse. Instead, focus on finding a solution that meets the needs and concerns of both parties.
Solomon has something to say about this matter: “You will keep your friends if you forgive them, but you will lose your friends if you keep talking about what they did wrong” (Proverbs 17:9).
Releasing forgiveness is not easy, but it’s a crucial step in how to handle conflict in a Godly manner. It’s difficult to let go of an offense, especially if the person involved is someone you trust, such as a colleague, friend, relative, or romantic partner. Let go of any resentment or bitterness towards the other person, and seek to extend grace and forgiveness as God has forgiven you.
Seek outside help if needed.
Finally, if the conflict is too difficult to resolve on your own, consider seeking the help of a mediator or counselor to facilitate a resolution.
Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).
Conflict is just around the corner, and even the godliest follower of Christ is not exempted from strife. The key is to follow Paul’s advice: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).
Remember that handling conflict in a godly manner requires patience, kindness, and a willingness to put the needs of others before your own. It may not be easy, but with God’s help, it is possible to resolve conflicts in a way that promotes understanding, healing, and reconciliation.
Now that you know how to handle conflict in a Godly manner, remember everything you’ve read here and put them into practice when the time comes.
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