Conflict Responses – PUT OFF
When discussing the matter of conflict there are various ways that people will respond. In this section we will take a look at those responses which are inappropriate, responses that we should “Put Off.” These responses include:
“not to discuss the matter”
“run away from the situation”
“seek the counsel of an attorney”
"allowing hateful emotions to develop”
In any conflict people will respond in certain set ways. Some people respond to conflict by consciously deciding not to discuss the matter with the other party. An example of this response is found in 1 Samuel 2:22-25:
Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of
the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this
people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord's people to transgress. If one man sin against another,
the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the
voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.
Another response to conflict would be to run away from the situation:
But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her,
she fled from her face. And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to
Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my
mistress Sarai. (Genesis 16:6-8)
Some respond to conflict with aggression:
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the
synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia,
disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men,
which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and
the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which
said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this
Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council,
looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. (Acts 6:8-15)
Some will seek the counsel of an attorney rather than those who they are in fellowship with at the local assembly:
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the
saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not
that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life,
set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no,
not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do
ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8)
Some may respond by actually committing suicide:
Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.
And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua,
Saul's sons. And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul
unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and
abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. (1 Samuel 31:1-4)
Some individuals respond to conflict by allowing hateful emotions to develop. As believers we must understand that hateful speech and thoughts are before God equal to having committed murder and in fact can lead to murder:
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one,
and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my
brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth
not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life
abiding in him. (1 John 3:11-15)
Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall
say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Conflict Responses – PUT ON
Instead of not discussing matters, running away from situations, aggression, initially seeking counsel of an attorney instead of other believers, committing suicide, allowing hateful emotions to develop, or committing murder, a believer should instead respond to conflict by addressing the issues at hand; this is a form of submitting:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves
damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is
good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be
afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are
God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom
to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7)
The response that should characterize all believers when in the midst of conflict is to seek peace with that person. Even though the following verses refer to the Millennial period they have application to believers: “When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). We are told in Micah:
But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains,
and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up
to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for
the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong
nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword
against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall
make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. (Micah 4:1-4)
In the New Testament believers are described as new creations in Christ and as such our lives should be characterized by peace, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:15-16). We are to be peaceful because of the fact that our sins have been forgiven, we are in Christ Jesus and we have a new nature. Secondly, believers are to seek peace in all circumstances. Three verses that speak to this are found in Romans, Corinthians, and Hebrews. “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (Romans 14:19). Not only are we to seek peace but also things which will bring edification to others. We are exhorted to be of one mind, “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11). Finally, in Hebrews 12:14 we are told to pursue holiness, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Hence, we see related directly to peace are the concepts of edification and holiness.
Blessings will always follow anyone pursuing peace. “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:37); and in Proverbs 12:20, “Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.”
Conflict without proper resolution will destroy a relationship, hence intimate conversations are needed. We are told in Matthew 12:25, “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” Believers are supposed to be:
…the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a
candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. ” Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
If we have unresolved conflict in our marriage it is as if we are putting our lamp under a basket. Hence, there are certain things couples should do in order to address conflict successfully, recognizing that conflict in itself is not bad, although unresolved conflict is destructive. The scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 7:28 that “…those who marry will face many troubles in this life…” (NIV). Conflict requires discussion, and that discussion should occur daily until the matter is resolved, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Secondly, we are exhorted to focus on the day’s business and not leave things for another day, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).
It is of vital importance when addressing conflict to gather all the facts. We read in Proverbs 18:13, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” In order to resolve conflict each party must have all the facts. Anyone who attempts a resolution without all the facts will not only fail to resolve the issue but might actually make the problem worse.
Along with gathering facts, timing when the matter is going to be discussed is very important. “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). As that famous saying goes, “Timing is everything.” Conflicts should be addressed at the appropriate time. A wife should not call her husband at work to resolve an issue, similarly a husband should not call his wife while she is busy at home or employed outside the home. Neither is it a good time to discuss a matter when a person just enters the home from work or is ready to go to bed. Couples need to schedule a time convenient for each other when they are not tired or distracted.
Cleanwaters Counseling Ministries provides biblical discipleship and counseling for married couples and those with addictions.