UGH! That person is SO irritating!
Is conflict bad? Not necessarily. Conflict, when handled well, can bring understanding, a deeper relationship, and needed change.
But if the conflict in your life is stealing your joy, causing deep frustration and discontentment, then we have a problem.
Often, we struggle in our relationships and we spend time angry and frustrated.
- Our husbands misunderstand us or say something that hurts us.
- Our children disobey or are irresponsible or disrespectful.
- Our neighbors have parties at night
- Our co-worker is selfish and only cares about themselves.
This can happen with anyone in our sphere: family, work, church, school, anyplace there are other people! All of a sudden we are in conflict.
One thing we have to look at in conflict with other people is this: What can I control?
In my case, probably because I am not around very many adults, much of my conflict is with my kiddos. And here is the reality: I can teach them, train them, certainly pray for them, but ultimately, I can’t control them.
I can’t control what my husband does or what a coworker or a boss does.
Struggling though a conflict with another person limits what you can actually do because you can’t change other people. It’s a fundamental concept that you must come to terms with. (It's sooo hard!)
But who can I control? I can control me.
But that’s good news because God gave us help for that.
What am I supposed to do about this conflict?
Open up another browser or your Bible to Ephesians 4-5.
Paul tells us here what junk we can take off and what good things we can put on while we are in conflict.
As an aside, if we feel like we are always in the right and we are never in the wrong, we are probably delusional. We throw our own mess into conflict all the time. Once I realized that, if helped me move past a lot of conflict and give me some specifics on what I can control.
Paul tells us to take off some things. When I say take off, I want you to think about ill-fitting, gross clothing that we need to take off and get rid of.
- unresolved anger
- foul language
- sexual immorality
- coarse and foolish talking
Those nasty things damage our relationships. Which of these things are like articles of clothing that you’re still wearing and need to take off? If you’re having conflict, most likely, at least some part of that list is a problem for you. Don't like reading that? I don't like it either!
Thankfully Paul doesn’t just leave us there but tells us what we are supposed to put on and these things heal our relationships. They are things that if we have on, they put us in a place where we need to be.
- accepting one another
- speaking truth
That is righteous behavior and attitudes!
When we put these things on, all of the sudden our relationships are totally different. It doesn’t remove the conflict, but just picture yourself with your kids when they are just losing their ever-loving minds.
If we have on humility, gentleness, patience, speaking truth to them in love, with kindness, and compassion for what they feel and what is hard for them, forgiving them, if that’s our attitude, think about how much of the conflict would just disappear!
But we often get into these try hard-do good-fail cycles.
But, it isn't that easy!
Think about what Paul says in Romans 7, “I do not practice what I want to do but I do what a hate. I do not do the good that I want to do but I practice the evil I do not want.” If Paul struggled, then you can bet we will, too!
Choosing to walk in righteousness is hard. We have to decide moment by moment to choose humility, choose gentleness, choose patience with that human being. I can forgive their craziness. But I have to choose righteousness in that moment.
Reality check: We have the truth in us.
If you are a believer, then Scripture tell us that you have been given Christ’s righteousness.
You have been made into a new creature, a new creation!
That’s the real you!
We do not have to “fake it ‘till we make it.” We do not have to invent righteousness. The real you is righteous! The real you is humble and patient and gentle and forgiving. That’s who you really are.
It’s not a matter of trying hard – it’s choosing to live according to who we already are.
There’s so much hope in that! The struggle is real, but the new self is even more real than the struggle. I have the ability to take off and put on because the real, naked me is clothed in Christ’s righteousness!
How to Deal with Conflict Biblically:
Remember that we always have a part in conflict. If my kids or a neighbor or coworker or hubby is acting crazy, it takes both of us to maintain that conflict. We have to choose to align ourselves with the reality of who we really are – to align our actions and our thoughts (things we can control) with who we really are in Christ.
Whatever conflict you have today, choose patience, choose humility, go read Ephesians 4 and look at that list of “take offs” and picture yourself shedding off those things and putting on what the Spirit of God has already provided for us.
Ask Him for help. He will always provide it! That’s not just from me – that’s a promise of the Lord! He always provides what He requires of us. So face that conflict with hope, take off your yucky and put on who you really are.