The Purpose Driven Life
THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
God wants us to value relationships and make the effort to maintain them instead of discarding them whenever there is a hurt or conflict. God has given us the ministry of restoring relationships. 2 Corinthians 5:18 says, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Paul taught us that our ability to get along is a mark of spiritual maturity. Philippians 2:1-2 says, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Christ wants His family to be known for our love for each other.
If you want God’s blessings on your life and you want to be known as a child of God, you must be a peacemaker. Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Peacemakers are rare because peacemaking is hard work and often dangerous because being in the middle means you get it from both sides. Peacemaking is one of the most important skills to develop.
Peacemaking is not avoiding conflict. Pretending it doesn’t exist or being afraid to talk about it is actually cowardice. Sometimes we need to avoid conflict, and sometimes we need to resolve it. We must pray for the Holy Spirit’s continual guidance. Peacemaking is not appeasement allowing others to run over you. Jesus refused to back down on many issues, standing His ground in the face of evil opposition.
Ask God before you talk to a person. Pray about the conflict first before you act. Tell God exactly how you feel. Most conflicts are rooted in unmet needs. Some of these needs can only be met by God. When you expect anyone to meet a need that only God can fulfill, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and bitterness. No one can meet all your needs except God. God says, “Why don’t you come to Me first?”
James 4:2 says, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” It does not matter whether you are the offender or the offended: God wants you to make the first move. Don’t wait for the other party. Restoring broken fellowship is so important, Jesus commanded that it even take priority over group worship.
Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Schedule a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible. Delay only deepens resentment and makes matters worse. In conflict, time heals nothing.
The success of a peace meeting often depends on choosing the right time and place to meet. The best time is when you both are at your best. Before attempting to solve any disagreement, you must first listen to the other party’s feelings. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Focus on their feelings, not the facts.
Feelings are not always true or logical. Proverbs 19:11 says, “Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.” Patience comes from wisdom and wisdom comes from Christ. People do not care what we know until they know that we care. Romans 15:2 says, “We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” It’s a great sacrifice to patiently absorb the anger of others.
Romans 15:3 says, “For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult You, O God, have fallen on Me.” Begin with admitting that you are part of the conflict, you have sinned too. Matthew 7:5 says, “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” All of us have blind spots, ask God to show you this.
When you begin by humbly admitting your mistakes, it defuses the other person’s anger and disarms their attack because they were probably expecting you to be defensive. Don’t shift the blame or make an excuse, just honestly own up to any part you have played in the conflict. Accept responsibility for your mistakes and ask for forgiveness. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
Attack the problem, not the person. A soft answer is always better than a sarcastic one. In resolving conflict, how you say it is as important as what you say. Proverbs 16:21 says, “The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive.” For the sake of fellowship you must try to eliminate attitudes like: condemning, belittling, labeling, insulting, and condescending.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Romans 12:18 says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Peace always has a price tag. Sometimes it costs our pride, often it costs our self-centeredness. Try to compromise, adjust to others, and show preference to what they need.
Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to agree about everything. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship while resolution focuses on the problem. When we focus on reconciliation the problem loses significance and often becomes irrelevant. God expects unity not uniformity and we can walk together without agreeing on every issue at hand.
But do not give up in finding a solution. You may need to continue discussing and even debating, but you do it in the spirit of harmony. So now with whom do you need to restore fellowship? Don’t delay, talk to the Lord and pick up your phone and begin this process. The steps are simple, but they are not easy. It takes a lot of effort to restore a relationship. But when you work for peace, God is pleased.