Have you ever encountered a conflict with someone? I bet you’re thinking that’s a silly and loaded question! Of course you have. We all have, probably countless times over the course of our lives in various shapes and forms. I bet you have a specific recent example that can’t escape your mind. That person that just drives you crazy or a friend that just won’t let something go. I want you to focus on that one and answer yourself honestly, “Did I handle it the way Jesus would have?”
Conflicts, at times, are simply unavoidable. Sometimes they are as a result of our wrong doing and sometimes they are things that happen unfairly to us. They could range from something as simple as a difference of an opinion to one that is much more hurtful and damaging. Either way, those who are followers of Jesus Christ are called to handle them differently.
In Romans 12, Paul gives us clear instruction on how we are to live and handle these situations.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Paul lays out marks of a true Christian here, but did you notice verse 18? He tells us to live peaceably with everyone, but says “If it is possible” and “as much as depends on you.” That would mean there are times when it is not possible. Disagreements and disputes will happen. We are humans, after all. Another sad reality is that some people are not interested in making peace with us. It can be easy to get caught up in them and get out of hand if we are not fervent in the Spirit. In the Greek, “fervent” is the idea of a pot of boiling water over a flame. It’s active, giving off steam and heat. Our walk with God should be on fire like that, which would help us in getting along with others. Harmony with others may not always be achievable, but we should not be responsible for the lack of peace.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Our own ego, pride, desires, and prejudices should never get in the way of living peaceably with others. Sometimes, you may disagree about an issue with no absolute answer in sight. The Bible is clear, however, that on matters of bedrock conviction, we must take our stand with grace, mercy, and integrity.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
When making “peace” is possible only by compromising the truth, or the commands of God, then peace is simply not possible, and the choice no longer depends on us. That stance might result in our own suffering or persecution.
In Acts 5:28-32, the disciples of Jesus demonstrate this by continuing to preach The Gospel even after being arrested and told not to anymore:
28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Paul has shown us that it always matters more that we represent Christ well than to come away with an outcome we find favorable. So, as we live out each day here, let us check our ego at the door, walk in true humility and Spirit, and let our light so shine before the world so that Jesus receives all the glory!