Conflicts certainly arise in every person life. This is largely due to our having to endure the contradictions of us as sinners against one another as we run this race of faith (Hebrews 12:1-4).
Conflict exists in two broad areas: internal to ourselves and external between us and others. Both are lifelong and require our lifelong attention. They affect one another. Resolving internal conflicts prepares us to more ably resolve external conflicts.
We must recognize the spiritual warfare and be strong and of good courage for our God, ourselves, our children, our spouses, other family and friends. Know that we are loved by God and our family and friends even if it sometimes does not seem that way remembering that other than God we and they are imperfect and struggling. But like a good soldier, sailor, and airman we must with the weapons of faith, hope, love and forgiveness fight and struggle for ourselves and the ones proverbially in the foxhole or on the ship or airplane next to us.
Hebrews 12:1-4 reminds us that all must strive against sin enduring contractions of sinners against oneself. 1 Peter 5:9 reminds us that all of us must go through affliction. These scriptures remind us that such afflictions come from us and others. Hebrews 12:5-13 reminds us that sometimes our affliction is brought by God to make us better. The scripture also reminds us that all things work together for our good and the suffering of this present world/time is not worthy to be compared to the glory that we shall one day behold if we don’t give up but be steadfast in our faithfulness trusting in God to bring us through as we walk my faith not by sight looking through the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ who came to seek and save the lost and through whom we have through his blood the forgiveness of sins according to the richness of his grace. We all are a work in progress saved not by works but by grace to work the works of God spiritually church-wise and naturally professional career-wise (Proverbs 3:5-6; Luke 19:10; John 10:9-11; 15:7; 16:13; Romans 8:18, 28; 1 Cor 15:55-58; 2 Cor 5:7; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10; Philippians 1:6; Colossian 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Hebrews 11:6; Revelation 3:20).
Internal Personal Conflicts With Self.
Internal conflict has to do with uneasiness about something. It asks such questions as am I or am I not. Should I or shouldn’t. Thus, internal conflict is natural and good. For it is about choice and will. The problem arises when we fail to provide clear and compelling answers to those questions without rehashing them everyday. That does not mean we should not revisit such questions over time. But we should not be consumed by them because we have no clarity of answer. Such consumption causes worry, anxiety, and stress that may leak out and negatively affect our external relationships causing external conflict.
Everyone’ s life is different. So I will just outline some principles to consider:
Recognize the Spiritual Warfare: Scriptures like Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 22:31-32; and Ephesians 6:10-18 speak of spiritual warfare. From the point of conception in our mother’s womb we enter the real of spiritual warfare where Satan is out to take our life and further advance his desire to win the soul of our parents, and others that touch or may touch our lives. For we all must go through affliction having God as our friend and the Devil as our enemy. We all are in a spiritual warfare that none can escape whether we recognize it as spiritual warfare or not. In the womb, instinctively we fight to survive. Once we are birthed forth the fight becomes more complex and expansive. We must then go through basic training as children and then advanced training as adult. It is a life long process as we must continue to study and learn through both academics and experience. None can escape it. None should give up. All should look to our Creator God to bring us through.
Love Yourself: Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God first, and then love yourself as you love others. He said to love God first and foremost above all others; that includes loving obedience to God’s Word, Will, and Ways above giving in to the disobedient desires of self and of others. He said do not neglect to love yourself and he never said love others more than yourself to the point of harm to self though you may choose to do so as he did in giving his life for us. To me this means if you choose to so give then it should be a point of joy not pain (Hebrews 12:1-4). To me this means if you are not able to have such joy without overwhelming pain then you ought not to so give for you will end up unproductively harming self and others.
Forgive Yourself: 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins God is able to forgive us of sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We all have and may again do wrong in our lives. If the holy perfect Creator God is ready, willing, and able to forgive us, then we certainly ought to forgive ourselves. Unforgiveness of self brings pain and absence of internal peace causing unclear thinking, unproductive and destructive actions, and internal conflict. Yet, forgiveness does not mean totally ignoring what has happened. For we must recognize and learn from what has happened with contriteness and repentance of it so as to earnestly commit to not doing it again.
Forgive Others. In Matthew 6:12, 14-15 and Matthew 18:23-35 Jesus addresses the issue of forgiveness. Here Jesus says we should forgive others if we want God to forgive us. In essence he says we should forgive them as many times as we want to be forgiven by God and others. How many times is that? Jesus says the number is unlimited as forgiveness is to be offered an unlimited number of times. Unforgiveness of others brings pain and absence of external peace causing unclear thinking and external conflict. Yet, forgiveness does not mean totally ignoring what has happened. For we and others involved must recognize and learn from what has happened with contriteness and repentance of it so as to earnestly commit to not doing it again. If others refuse to repent by committing the same severe offense over and over then forgiveness with partial or total departure from the offending person is godly to do. It is godly to do not only for the sake of oneself but also for the offending party’s sake as incompatibility is warned about in scriptures like Amos 3:3 where it says if two cannot agree how can they walk together. Of course, everybody’s situation is different so all things must factor into any departure decision. Minor petty offenses should not be of any major concern.
Set Godly Life Goals, Objectives, and Routines: Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 and Paul in Philippians 4:6-8 and Peter in 1 Peter 5:7-11 speak to us about not worrying for we all must go through affliction. This does not mean the absence of concern. Worry or anxiety is excessive concern of a harmful or crippling nature. We are exhorted to rather seek and trust in God and to have positive thoughts of faith. In Jerimiah 29:11-14 God speaks of the thoughts of peace he has toward his people and bringing them to a good end even though they were sometimes afflicted because of their disobedience. It is a principle applicable to even his people of today. So Jesus does not teach we should not plan our lives but we should seek God’s plans and purpose and expectation for lives to make sure our plans line up with his plans. A mark of such plans is to make sure our plans are consistent with being obedient with his Word through prayerfully gaining wisdom, truth, knowledge, and understanding through the Holy Spirit. This is an iterative refinement process as we grow spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and otherwise; so we should not be afraid of failure nor feel defeated due to failure. As Hebrews 12:12-13 says: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” In other words, God is not though with us when we fail; he will heal us. Hang in there and be strong of of good courage for the Lord God is our helper promising to not leave us nor forsake us and he is faithful who promised.
Live Healthily: Eat Well. Be Physically Active Well. Home Well. Church Well. Work Well. Socialize/Play Well. Avoid abuses such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and romantic relationship abuse.
Have a Quality Life: See my article in the reference section entitled Quality of Life.
External Conflicts With Others.
Conflict may involve spouses, children, extended family, friends, neighbors, on the job, in church, or a total stranger while one is driving on the road or other persons. Handling conflict proper can mean the difference between completely losing or keeping/building a relationship. It may even mean the difference between life and death.
The Bible has much to say on conflict management. One can type something like “scriptures on conflict resolution” into a search engine and receive a lot of bible based information on conflict management.
A sermon at lifeway.com entitled Jesus Plan For Resolving Conflict summaries some of what Jesus says about the subject; it speaks of handling conflict from four perspectives:
(1) Address the Matter Quickly (Matthew 5:23-25)
(2) Address the Matter Face to Face (Matthew 18:15)
(3) Address the Matter One on One First (Matthew 18:15)
(4) Get Help If All Else Fails (Matthew 18:16-17)
An article entitled 8 Bible Verses About Conflict and Conflict Resolution speaks to why conflicts arise. The article says:
(1) Conflict is stirred up by a hating heart (Proverbs 10:12)
(2) Conflict is stirred up by a hot tempered heart (Proverbs 15:18)
(3) Conflict is stirred up by a perverse heart (Proverbs 16:28)
(4) Conflict is stirred up by a greedy heart (Proverbs 28:25)
(5) Conflict is stirred up by an angry heart (Proverbs 29:2)
(6) Conflict can be avoided if others get involved (Matthew 18:16)
(7) Conflict needs to be resolved before leaving a gift for God (Matthew 5:23-24)
(8) Conflict needs to be dealt with right away (Matthew 5:25-26)
Below are some additional links that provide information on which one should meditate to ensure he/she understand how to properly handle conflicts when they occur as they will certainly occur. The first one is perhaps one of my favorites as it is straightforward and aligns with my observations and experiences about the reasons for and how to properly handle conflict. Of course, the problem is easier said than done. Yet, it is worth the effort of getting better at handling conflict as time goes by. Not all of the techniques may be appropriate for every situation. Use the below as a guide for your own life as they fit.