4 principles for resolving conflict
People hurt us. Sadly, it’s part of life. And when that happens, we often respond with explosive anger, or we allow a toxic bitterness to poison our souls. But Ephesians 4 paves a third path.
It’s the path rarely taken. The path our world so desperately needs. The path that rescues families. The path that saves churches. The path to reconciliation.
Here are four principles for reconciliation from Ephesians 4:25-32:
1. Reconcile as fast as possibly healthy
If we do not reconcile quickly, we give the devil a foothold.
Ephesians 4 says to reconcile before the sun sets. And Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said that if we are preparing to give our offering, but then remember that there is an issue separating us from our brother or sister, we should get up, find them, resolve the issue and then come back to give our offering.
This still applies. Ever tried to participate in worship with others, but were distracted because of your anger? It’s pointless.
But only reconcile as fast as possibly healthy. I counsel married couples to do this, because often times they each have a fear: One fears the conflict will be buried, while the other fears that the conflict will escalate, if they talk about it immediately. This second person needs a few minutes or hours to process, calm down and pray.
My advice is for the couple to acknowledge the conflict and agree on a time to resolve it. They might say, “It’s obvious we need to resolve this conflict, but can we do so after I go for a walk?”
Reconciliation must be done in love, therefore, the timing matters. We must consider the needs of the other person.
2. Speak truthfully
Have you ever been on the receiving end of the following statements:
Exaggerating the truth deepens conflicts. Doing so multiplies the sins and makes it impossible to have a real conversation. And if two feuding parties both indulge in exaggerating, there is a zero percent chance of reconciliation.
Own your own mistakes, and speak truthfully about the mistakes of others.
3. Be loving
Harsh words are an absolute roadblock to reconciliation. They mask truth, fuel anger and void the content of what is said.
True words without love should not be spoken. We must filter our words, so that only loving ones are allowed to escape.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up, and that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
You may not forget the hurt. But you must forgive. Again. And Again. And Again.
Jesus says to forgive 70 x 7. Some of you understand this. You have been forgiving someone from your past, for decades. It’s become easier, but it’s still a choice.
Colossians 3 tells us to forgive each other as the Lord has forgiven us. Jesus warned in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Soak that in for a moment.
If anyone had the right to be angry or bitter, it was Jesus, but he chose forgiveness, even on a cross.
Reconciliation is not easy work. It is for the brave and compassionate.
Related Post: 5 signs you have toxic bitterness