“Stuff happens, get over it.” People say that all the time, for various situations. You forget to close the garage door, get cut off on the freeway, mix up dates, and generally survive many more everyday mishaps. But there are some things that hit us harder, and it’s not as easy to get over them. One of these things is getting in a disagreement with someone else. No matter who the person is, arguments can lead to serious side effects.
Read James 4:1-3.
What is the cause of the arguments? If you’re taking a stand for Christ, keep going! As long as you’re sure Jesus wants you there, keep on keeping on. But a lot of times, James points to the real issue. Arguments, especially within a church, are caused by “your desires.” Your personal opinions clash with someone else’s, and the whole thing gets blown into ridiculous proportions. Churches have had debilitating, congregation-breaking disagreements over things as pointless as carpet, hymns, and sermon length. More times than not, the fiasco ends in people leaving because no one can make peace.
When opinions go to war, it’s important to maintain the proper perspective. Our first response to things like this should be to run into the Father’s arms and ask for His help before it starts progressing. Too many times we don’t stop long enough to realize what’s happening, and we immediately start reacting. God can open our eyes to see things the way He sees them, up where carpet doesn’t matter. Sometimes it only takes a moment for a deep breath, but other times it takes looking through the Holy Spirit to realize we are arguing about something totally pointless that isn’t going to make an important difference anyways.
Read James 1:19-21
How many arguments would never have happened if we lived by these verses? Another step to resolving conflict is listening to the other person’s motives as to why they did (or said) what they did. It’s easy to not care why someone did something, especially if your goal is to simply undo that action. But our goal should be to resolve the conflict in the way God wants so we can honor Him. Notice James said, “because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” So many times we think being angry with someone is a natural response, but bitterness is not a God-honoring response. If you’re angry, don’t even try to respond yet, and if you’ve already done anything out of anger you should not have done, ask God for forgiveness.
Our second response is to forgive the person who has hurt us. Even if he didn’t do anything to you specifically, a person can still hurt your feelings. Admit what he (or she) did, and then forgive him. If there is one thing I’ve learned from conflict, forgiveness and love are the two keys to resolving it. We can’t really be nice or loving to someone we have not forgiven from the heart, and we can’t forgive them if we are unwilling to admit they hurt us. The enemy wants us to let bitterness and discord grow inside of us because it stops us from loving others with God’s love.
Accept what God’s Word has to say on the matter. There’s more relevant information in the Bible than most people think, and you can probably find something about what you’re going through. You’ll at least find comfort in the One Who does know what to do; ask that His will be done.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”—Proverbs 15:1
Finally, we need to talk to that person with kindness and grace. It can be very tempting to still treat that person like he has no idea what he’s doing, even though we know that’s not true. Whether the Father calls us to remain silent or gently talk the situation over with that person, our words still need to be seasoned with grace and love. Proverbs 16:24 is a favorite of mine since it shows the power loving words can have in any circumstance: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” People today are constantly surrounded by the voices in this world that say they aren’t good enough. We are called to tell them something very different; we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16).
Dear Father thank You for forgiving us! Help us also forgive others. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive all who sin against us. Please give us clarity in troubling times, and help us stay focused on You! Whatever the outcome, we know You are in control and therefore we will be okay. Let Your will be done! We need Your words, not ours. Please be with us now and help us to reflect You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, please help us love You more! Amen.