As we enter this holiday season many are cringing at the very thought of crossing paths with family or friends that they have experienced conflict with. Many families will have empty chairs at their holiday table not because of a physical death, but because a choice was made to allow a relationship to die. For the professed believer, it might do us some good before we sit down to that holiday feast; to return to the cross for a moment to hear the Words of our Lord and Savior "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
The simple truth is this; if we love others God's way, always willing to work things out for the purpose of peace, it will be possible! If we grasp that some people act the way they do because they have not yet decided to do things God's way, we can extend the hand of grace without hesitation. When we determine to overlook an offense it not only saves the day but it crushes the fiery darts of our enemy. If we choose Satan's way, the consequence will be separation.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. "
SANDPAPER PEOPLE by Micca Campbell
Taking the log out of my own eye (Luke 6:42) was imperative to understanding that it takes two or more to create a conflict and two or more to resolve one. To think I played no part in a resulting conflict is to be deceived. The Bible refers to this as spiritual blindness with a spirit of pride. I had to come face to face with this truth myself a few years back. After allowing God to penetrate my own heart, I sought His forgiveness. When possible and as God leads, I have sought out forgiveness from people that I have hurt whether subconsciously or intentionally. Some may not understand this, but if someone perceives an injustice they believe it. They may be totally inaccurate in their assessment of the situation, or they may actually be the one doing the wounding. However, to work towards peace I attempt to acknowledge their perception by simply saying "I realize this is how you see it. I may say I did not mean for it to ... Can you forgive... so we can move forward?" My role as a professed child of God is to work towards peace. I am learning to leave the offense to the defense and correction of God. He alone can turn hearts of stone to hearts of love. He alone restores.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." - Matthew 5:9
"Hurt people, hurt people - Healed people, help people."
Friends, when we allow bitterness, anger, resentment and an unforgiving spirit to rule us, we are not operating by God's humble spirit. The Bible is very poignant in telling us that "God hates pride" (Proverbs 8:13). To say that the other person is the only one at fault, is a clear statement of professed perfection. It may be true that the other person may have started the conflict. It may be true that your feelings got hurt. It may be true that you did not deserve what you got. It may also be true that you have gone round and round this very same mountain with them before, but that doesn't mean with our cooperation and God's help, things can't eventually change. Can you imagine how exhausted God might be with mankind had He not made the way of forgiveness through grace? To remember that there is only One who is perfect will help you extend mercy and grace to those who have hurt you. It is possible when we are on our knees in prayer.
Listen up. How we respond in the conflict, and how we choose to resolve it will determine the number of layers to the sin. Oh how I wish I would have learned this as a young woman. The truth for a believer is this; broken relationships do not bring glory to God! Satan hates God and he hates God's children. He is at work daily to destroy families (John 10:10) because the family represents a circle of love. The last thing he wants is for families to operate with God at the center. You need not look too far to confirm the truth of warfare. Families are a mess, mine included. It should not be!
These days I remind myself often that no one is perfect, not one of us (Romans 3:10). Getting this is allowing me to move past responding negatively to harsh words and hurtful actions. It helps me keep the focus on God as I wait. Instead I ask God what He would have me learn from the situation? I ask Him how I am to respond? Whether the other person is on board with reconciliation does not matter! Children of God are to respond as God's children. We are not responsible for what others do, we are only responsible for ourselves. Satan desires for you to continue to drink his poison and he wants you to continue finger-pointing. Children of God, put your hands down today!
Finally, we have no power to control the heart or mind of another human being, only their Creator can do that if they allow Him too. In this very moment I have several relationships dear to me that I am still praying about constantly. I understand that true and lasting reconciliation is not possible until all hearts are operating aligned to God's will. Some doors have been shut pretty tightly by choice. However, on my side of the door I understand through the Word of God that I must keep the deadbolt unlocked. I can never lock it if I ever desire to be a part of the victory celebration. It is painful at times and sometimes I really don't get it. But, what I do know is that my Sovereign Father in Heaven is working behind the scenes to bring about beauty for ashes and good from all evil to those who call Him Lord (Romans 8:28-30 paraphrased). I claim this truth.
"In as much as possible live at peace (Romans 12:18)." Do not allow yourself to be deceived. 1 John 4:19-21 tells us "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," but hates another, that person is a liar. For anyone who does not love others, whom he has seen, cannot love God, who he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love others." Hatred, malice, gossip, slander and conflict do not fit the description of a child of God. (John 8:42-47)
If you have some doors that are closed this Thanksgiving, consider what God might have you do. Pray and ask Him for guidance and the ability to discern. Invite Him to lead you in the way you should go. Get quiet before Him and share your heart. Then, be still and patient with a willingness to respond to what He places on your heart. You will never regret doing it God's way.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING. May it be the most blessed one ever.
In Christ by grace,
What does the Bible Say about Pride?
Conflict Resolution: Focus on Reconciliation
Live at Peace - As Far as It Depends on You
Conflict Resolution: Confront Someone in Love
How to Handle Personal Conflict