Conflict - ABC's
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
Is it ever possible to have a life free from conflict?
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.
Conflicts between parents and children
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Conflicts between husband and wife.
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Conflicts at work
After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we went to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
- Paul calls elders from Ephesus
Conflicts with other family members
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Conflicts in the church
These conflicts seem to always exist, driving wedges between us that further divide us along racial, political, socio economic lines.
As much as lies with us, we should be at peace with all men ()
This means that we should always do our part to work towards peace.
It is sinful to be the cause of conflict with someone.
If someone will not hold to the truth of the gospel, then they are the cause of the conflict.
But, if they repent, or the issue is one of personality, we have the responsibility to try to make peace.
The book of Philemon is Paul’s inspired attempt at conflict resolution between Philemon and his runaway slave, Onesimus.
Remember, Onesimus ran off from his master, probably owing him money (see v 18)
Paul was sending him back to his master, and sought to cause a reconciliation between the two instead of continued animosity.
We can take what we learn from this book and apply it to conflict in our lives, but especially to conflict within the Lord’s church.
Following list is an adaptation of a fellow Preachers entitled “ABC’s of Conflict Resolution.” by Chuck Northrop
Appeal to what is right (v. 8)
Appeal to what is right (v. 8)
Many people want to resolve conflict by making the other person live by THEIR imposed standards.
Have you ever heard anyone say (or perhaps you’ve said) “I won’t forgive you until you do this, this, and this...”?
This is setting up arbitrary standards on forgiveness.
Instead, we should always and only appeal to that which is right.
“Convenient” is that which is befitting, or a proper thing according to a set standard.
Paul did not appeal to Philemon based on Paul’s own opinion.
Instead, Paul appealed to Philemon to do what he knew to be right (as a Christian).
Until people agree on the standard, there can be no resolution to a conflict.
When neither side agrees on a standard, there is no basis for resolution.
Imagine trying to convince someone of the need to become a Christian, but they do not agree that the Bible is the standard.
If he never accepts the Bible as a standard, can you convince him the need to be baptized?
The reason there is so much religious confusion in the world today is because people no longer hold the Bible as the absolute standard.
If the other person is not acting correctly, it still does not give us justification for “stooping to their level.”
Suppose someone gets upset with you.
Is screaming back at them really going to make the problem better?
No, we must remember that we should appeal to what we know to be right by the standard of the Bible.
Turn the other cheek ()
Let your words be spoken with grace, seasoned with salt ()
Always appeal to what is right
The Bible tells us how to act towards others.
If there is a spiritual dispute, the Bible gives the answers.
If it is a non-doctrinal dispute, we need to remember to always behave as Christians.
We should never do anything that might bring reproach upon the Lord’s church.
We should never do anything that might cause someone else to stumble (whether a Christian or not - )
Behold Change in Others (v. 11)
Behold Change in Others (v. 11)
Onesimus had changed since Philemon had last seen him.
He was no longer “unprofitable,” but instead had become quite the helper to Paul. (Onesimus means “profitable” in Greek, so Onesimus was now living up to his name).
Onesimus had obeyed the gospel, and was seeking to do things the right way.
Paul recognized the change in Onesimus (verse 16).
before, he was just a slave.
Now, he is a beloved brother.
There was a change in actions, but also in the relationship.
Onesimus was now doing the right things.
He was also a brother in Christ.
We must also recognize the changes in others.
Jesus said a prophet is not without honor except in his own country ().
The reason a prophet has no honor in his home country and in his house is because people only want to remember him as the little boy.
They fail to recognize the change.
It has been said that if you are local, you might be right (though not likely).
If you are from 50 miles away, you know what you are talking about.
If you are from another state, you must be an expert.
Isn’t Christianity based on changes?
We go from lost to found.
We Go from serving Satan and self to serving God and Christ.
Repenting means changing our minds and our actions.
We expect God to recognize the changes we’ve made so that we can be saved.
Why is it so hard to recognize the changes other people have made?
Sometimes Christians wrong us, but we need to recognize the changes.
Imagine a husband/wife relationship where both are christians.
Do not people change as they age?
Hopefully, each of us is a better spouse today than when we got married.
Hopefully, each of us will recognize that truth about our spouse as well.
We need to see the changes for the better that they have made.
If someone is sorry for what they have done to you, you should recognize that.
Then, you must go back to appealing to what is right.
If they say they are sorry, then we are to forgive them ()
Not just say we forgive them, but we must forgive them truthfully, from the heart.
If we do not forgive our brethren who have wronged us, we will lose our soul ()
So many problems within a congregation or between congregations could disappear if both sides recognized the change in others instead of holding grudges.
Credit the Cost of Resolution
Credit the Cost of Resolution (v 12,19)
Credit the Cost of Resolution (v 12,19)
Paul had nothing invested in this situation, financially speaking.
Paul was not out any money, nor was he losing property.
from Paul’s physical and financial standpoint, it did not matter whether Philemon welcomed Onesimus back or not.
Paul took on a possible financial burden just to bring about resolution.
He said, “Whatever he owes you, I will repay it.”
He took on burdens and responsibilities just to bring about reconciliation.
Paul showed that a Christian will take every possible obstacle out of the way in order to bring about reconciliation.
Before we go further, remember that Paul was under house arrest, in a rented house that was paid for by Christians who sought to help Paul.
Paul was willing to give up the money that kept him from being thrown into the common dungeon prison in order to bring about reconciliation between two brothers in Christ.
When we are in conflicts, we need to have the same attitude.
If we lose money as a result of bringing reconciliation, so be it.
It is far more important to bring about reconciliation than it is for us to have physical STUFF.
Jesus gave His own life to bring about reconciliation between us and the father.
Now, ask yourself what is more important.
Paul was willing to give up his liberties in order to convert and strengthen souls.
Paul was willing to go to prison to bring about reconciliation between brethren.
Are you willing to take on extra burdens to bring about this resolution to conflicts?
What are you willing to do to be reconciled to your brothers and sisters in Christ?
What are you willing to do to cause reconciliation with your spouse or family or friends?
Don’t doubt the value of others (v. 13-14)
Don’t doubt the value of others (v. 13-14)
Paul reminded Philemon of the great value of Onesimus.
Onesimus was a great help to Paul.
Paul made sure to share the value of Onesimus with Philemon.
He wanted Philemon to know that his slave was indeed a good person who was willing to make things right.
Remember that Philemon could have had Onesimus put to death for running away, yet Onesimus was still going back to him.
That alone should tell you something about the man’s changed character.
Philemon needed to see the value of his slave because of the change.
We need to remember the value of others.
How often do you call someone names in a derogatory way?
Do you really show that you value that person?
How likely are you to be willing to try to reconcile with a person who acts like you have no value?
Jesus Christ Himself prayed that all Christians would have unity in ().
If you do not seek to see the value in your brothers and sisters in Christ, then you are actively working to see that what Jesus’ requested in that prayer fails!
If it was important to Jesus, to our KING, should it not be important to us?
Whe nyou have an argument with someone, are you really seeing the value in that person?
They are someone who God Himself cares about.
They are someone for whom Jesus Christ died on the cross.
Yet you treat them as if they are worthless?
If there are problems within a congregation or between congregations, we need to remember to appeal to the standard of God’s word, and be willing to give up something in order to bring about resolution because they are valuable to God!
One congregation in Illinois had a man in it that was very blunt and rude in the way he dealt with people.
In fact, it was said that this man drove off entire families
Visitors would come in and upon meeting this man and being berated by him for asking questions they would never come back.
If members of the congregation and he failed to find them valuable, he would never seek to to reconcile with them and restore them back to assembling with the saints.
Efforts will be rewarded (v. 20)
Efforts will be rewarded (v. 20)
Not all conflicts will be resolved
Some people simply do not want to have matters resolved.
This attitude is sinful, for we should all strive to perfect the bond of peace and the unity between us all ()
Some people prefer to be mad and hold a grudge instead of forgiving.
Do you know of someone who won’t even speak to their own parents because they are holding a grudge?
I know people hwo
We must still put forth the effort!
Can you read other people’s minds?
Obviously not, and so we must still make the effort at reconciliation.
It is a God ordained thing that we seek to be at peace with all men.
You do not know that the other party might be willing to reconcile unless and until you try.
Most efforts at reconciliation fail because of poor attitudes
It is amazing how many times people will argue vehemently when they are on the same side!
Yet people are argumentative, and that NEVER helps with reconciliation.
If we put forth the effort, looking to the standard to see how we should behave ourselves, we would be amazed at the outcome!
Congregations would be stronger
Bonds between brothers and sisters in christ would be stronger.
Marriages would be stronger.
Putting forth the effort will bring about rewards!
I once read a congregations of the Lord’s church that split apart and became two separate congregations.
Years passed and bitterness remained between the congregations and no effort of reconciliation was made.
Some 50 years later, most of the members who were around during the time of the split had either passed on or forgotten why they split in the first place.
After deciding to speak to one another after 50 years of silence, they agreed to be reconciled once again.
If you never try, you are guaranteed to fail at reconciliation.
Paul looked forward to seeing the fruits of his efforts at reconciling Onesimus and Philemon.
Forgiveness is the goal
Forgiveness is the goal
Where conflict exists, forgiveness is the key to end it.
Someone in a movie once said “there are three words which can solve almost any problem: I forgive you.”
Instead of staying mad at someone, let it go.
Someone once said, “just let go of it, then let God take care of it.”
If you have a forgiving attitude, it will show when you are trying to rectify situations.
Instead of approaching someone in anger, approach them in love.
All of the other steps we have mentioned lead towards this one goal.
If people are in conflict, someone (usually both sides) are in the wrong in some way.
It can be having a wrong attitude.
And sometimes it is because of wrong actions.
It is the responsibility of the one who caused the conflict to seek forgiveness from both God and whoever he has wronged.
Go to them as a Christian should and apologize for your attitude and/or actions.
Do it in an attitude of love.
if it is with other Christians, do it because Christ prayed for His believers to be unified.
It is extremely difficult to do the Lord’s work when we are fighting against one another.
Seek forgiveness and be willing to forgive.
If you are not willing to forgive, your sins will be held against you at judgement ()
Remember Jesus’ model prayer? “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”? ()
Do you really want God to forgive you the same way you forgive others?
If there is a conflict between you and someone else, take these steps to rectify it.
Appeal to what is right (as seen in God’s word)
Behold their changes (perhaps they are willing to reconcile)
Credit the cost of resolution (Be willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve it)
Don’t doubt their value (They are important!)
Effort will be rewarded! (You’ll never see the reward of reconciliation if you don’t try or aren’t willing)
Forgiveness is the goal!
As Christians of course we know what we have the best man for the job to model the extents that we should take for reconciliation.
We know that
Every time we sin, we put ourselves in conflict with God.
Yet in spite of that fact, the book of Romans tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.