Conflict is inevitable in personal relationships. It is humanly impossible to live in total harmony with others at all times. Jesus told his disciples how to settle disputes between believers (Matthew 18:15–20). Paul resolved his conflict with John Mark, which had developed between the first and second missionary journeys (Acts 15:36–41). John warned Christians not to hate each other (1 John 4:20–21).
The Bible offers several steps to resolving conflict and settling disagreements among people:
- Scripture admonishes the believer to face the conflict—acknowledge its existence and accept its impact. Christ advised his disciples to go immediately and directly to the person and discuss the grievance (Matthew 18:15). Others should be enlisted to mediate the conflict only if the conflict cannot be resolved one-to-one (Matthew 18:16–17).
- Scripture instructs the believer to forgive the conflict—to put the disagreement behind and move ahead in harmony once it has been resolved. Euodia and Syntyche were encouraged to replace their bitterness with gentleness and to live in peaceful harmony, rejoicing in the Lord (Philippians 4:2–7).
- Scripture encourages the believer to move beyond the conflict. Paul resolved his grudge against Mark and sought opportunities to minister with him (compare Acts 15:36–41 with 2 Timothy 4:9–11).
Jesus reminded the Pharisees of the greatest commandments—to love the Lord and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37–40). The desire of God is for his children to live in harmony. Christians are to resolve conflict with others by replacing discord with love. The emphasis is not punitive but redemptive. (See 2 Corinthians 2:5–11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14–15.)
Excerpted from The Woman’s Study Bible, NIV © 2013 (Thomas Nelson) Used by permission.