Conflict. It’s one of the few things that each and every one of us deal with. We may have the rare day when life seems to be conflict free but for the most part, our lives are filled with one conflict after the next. One gets the feeling that we may have been born into conflict, and in fact that is correct. Since the first man and woman we have been in constant conflict with our creator, each other, and the world around us. It’s amazing that any of us are able to make it past childhood. But, as followers of Christ we are taught to deal with conflict in a different way. We don’t have to let every conflict that arises develop into a knock down drag out fight. It can and should be different, and we have the perfect example of conflict resolution in Jesus.
Most conflicts in my life are deeply rooted in the need to be right. It was a “gift” passed down from my mom that my brother also gets to enjoy. I learned at an early age that being correct about a certain subject or topic carried value within the world. I learned that even if you knew you were wrong that you should not back down. Be right no matter what the cost. You can always argue your way out of it. These have been very hard lessons to unlearn, but by the grace of God it has happened time and again. There have been so many un-needed conflicts driven by the mindset of needing to be right. These conflicts drive out peace amongst us and fester and grow with time. So how do we approach conflict in our lives in a way that honors God? It starts with seeking His wisdom.
Ch. 3 verses 16-18 of the book of James shows us the value of seeking God’s wisdom in everything we do. Conflict often arises when we put our own needs or ambitions above those around us. We live in a culture where your needs are to always be the top priority and the needs of others take a back seat if they are to be considered at all. James shows us something different. He states, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:16-17) When we seek God’s wisdom in conflicts we no longer need to put our own ambitions above others. We are given a beautiful picture of His wisdom and what the outcome is when we seek it. Peace and righteousness follow those who seek out God’s wisdom in conflicts.
When we grasp the need to pursue God’s wisdom in conflict we arrive at the need for humility. How are we ever to approach the conflict in our lives in a godly way without humility? Cultivating humility in our lives relieves us of the need to be right in conflict. It allows us to try to understand the other person’s circumstances and point of view. Paul speaks of this when writing to the Philippians in chapter 2 of his letter, and he does so by pointing us to the perfect example of Christ.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in
the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:4-8
God’s word tells us that when we pursue his wisdom and cultivate humility in our lives the conflicts we face will more often have a very different outcome. They will result in peace, shaping us into servants of Christ and honoring God. We become God’s peacemakers that Christ spoke of in the beatitudes. We receive the blessing of showing others a small slice of the character of God. In a world filled with conflict, I pray that as followers of Christ, we may bring his peace.