We can’t get around the fact that in this world we’ll have conflict. How many times have we said the wrong thing or displayed the wrong attitude, knowing that it has caused offense? We can ask God to smooth it over, but is that the end of it?
Conflict stems from a lack of understanding the different things that motivate each of us: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” James 4:1, ESV.
God’s Holy Spirit can’t come to it’s fullest when we’re divided, and that disunity corrupts God’s design. Many brethren over the years have left God’s work over disagreements or misunderstandings, real or imagined. Why is this? In part, it’s because we neglect the spiritual tools God has given us.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother,” Matthew 18:15.
Going to a brother, sister, or spouse can be stressful and difficult. But we’re not relieved of our responsibility no matter how uncomfortable it is. In Matthew 5 “peacemakers” are described as “Sons of God.” That’s our job—peacemakers among ourselves, our neighbors, co-workers, and our families.
When we have a problem with a brother or sister God expects us to use these tools to work through the issue. If we don’t, hurt and resentment can build and there may be a real reluctance to fellowship.
The Bible is about relationships: the Father to His people, and His people to one another, all preparing us for our future role as leaders and teachers. It’s also about communication and working through tough situations. When we decided to answer God’s call, we became emotionally invested in His word and His servants, potentially our spiritual family members for all eternity. Nothing is sadder than brethren avoiding one another because of misunderstandings and perceived offenses.
A humble attitude removes the natural human barrier to mutual submission. The goal of reconciliation after an estrangement is restored friendship and fellowship; healing emotional wounds. It doesn’t always mean agreement on every issue.
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift,” Matthew 5:23-24.
Our relationship with God is two-way. We cannot be in step with God and out of step with a brother or sister, neighbor, co-worker, or family member. Conflict presents opportunity for growth, allowing us to get to know other individuals on a much more personal level.
With Passover approaching, now is the time to take a personal inventory, addressing any relationships or issues in our lives that are not in alignment with God’s plan. Let’s diligently use the tools God has given us to reconcile with our spiritual family!
by Robert Kehoe