Conflict takes a big toll on everyone involved. Regardless of who’s right or wrong – regardless of ambiguities, complexities, or blatant sin issues – the tension of unresolved conflict builds up until it impacts almost every area of our lives.
Conflict is an inevitable consequence of living in a fallen world. However, being inevitable doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable.
In fact, conflict between fellow believers, when handled biblically, can be a priceless opportunity to strengthen our walk with the Lord, develop deeper fellowship with one another, and build character. The trick is in how we approach it.
If we approach conflict within the body of Christ with a genuine desire to glorify God, bring about reconciliation, and with a heart that is soft to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we will discover that conflict can be a blessing!
Conflict Promotes Prayer
Conflict hurts. Being at odds with another person, especially if they are a close friend or family member, wears away at our ability to focus, wholeheartedly serve Christ, and be a blessing to others. It drains our mental and emotional resources and leaves us running on a half empty tank. We easily slip into moodiness, self-absorption, hopelessness, and discontentment. Quite frankly, conflict is exhausting.
However, when we’re exhausted and feel hopeless, we somehow see our need for Christ more clearly. When surrounded by unresolved conflict and tension, we tend to pray more, presenting our cares to the Lord with greater ease. It drives us to fervently seek God because it shows us how incapable we are of bringing about change in our own strength. When we cry out to God for help, pour out our hearts to Him, and ask for His wisdom and guidance, He is always faithful to hear our prayers and meet us where we are.
Praying helps solve many of the problems that arise during conflict.By genuinely praying for the person who has wronged us, the Holy Spirit is able to gently work in our own hearts, softening our conscience to see our sin. Click To Tweet
By genuinely praying for the person who has wronged us, the Holy Spirit is able to gently work in our own hearts, softening our conscience to see our sin.He reminds us of how much Christ has forgiven us and helps us to realize afresh our deep personal need for a Savior.
Through communing with God in prayer, we are reminded of His grace shown towards us, and that puts in perspective any wrongs other people have done to us. Other people will never wrong us more than we have wronged Christ, and yet He still chose to sacrifice Himself to reconcile us to Him.
Prayer also helps us press on to know Christ more deeply. The more we “draw near to God” the more “He will draw near to [us]” (James 4:8a ESV). The closer we are with God, the more we see His trustworthiness and control in every situation, and this awareness makes it easier to cast “all [our] anxieties on Him” and believe that “He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV). As we pray and tell Him all about our worries, He promises to give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7a ESV).
Oftentimes just the act of voicing our fears or frustrations to God helps us process them. His immeasurable love is a vast ocean that overwhelms the bucket of sorrows we are carrying. The expanse of His eternal greatness sheds perspective on the fleeting difficulties we face today. The fact that the God who created the stars cares for us personally gives us the strength and comfort needed to face whatever situation, conflict, or trial comes our way.
Conflict Facilitates Deeper Fellowship
When we find ourselves stuck in conflict, often our tendency is to shrink away and avoid it at all costs. In doing this, we miss out on the opportunity to pursue deeper fellowship with Christ and our fellow Christian. Going through trials and working through issues with others can deepen our understanding of and love for them, creating bonds that can last a lifetime.
To have a Christ-like approach to conflict, you must study what the Bible says about these situations, be vulnerable and honest with others, and listen to counsel from other Christians seeking to glorify and serve God. Conflict provides opportunities to learn from others and grow in our faith as God works in our hearts to make us more like Him.
If we are around people for long enough, we will see the reality of the human condition. We’re all affected by our depraved nature. Until we reach heaven, we will all struggle with the grip that sin has on us. Sanctification happens slowly, and often it’s by working through sinful reactions and real-life situations that provide the opportunity to do things our way or God’s way.As we come face-to-face with our sinful human nature, we also come face-to-face with the perfection of God’s character. Click To Tweet
As we come face-to-face with our sinful human nature, we also come face-to-face with the perfection of God’s character. His holiness shines more clearly against the darkness of our sinful desires, His goodness is exemplified when compared to our selfishness, and His grace is showcased when we see how difficult it is for us to fully forgive.
By seeing who we were as sinners, Who God is, and who He has made us into as new creations in Christ, we clearly see the beautiful work of redemption. The gospel transforms lives, and when we are in Christ, we have new desires, new convictions, and a new love for others. Conflict shows us how far we’ve come, and how much God is working to make us more like Him.
Conflict Develops Compassion
When we see others struggling, we develop a deeper compassion for them. Experiencing conflict, especially big conflict situations that damage relationships or cause heartbreak, teaches us to better empathize with others. We can comfort and encourage others with the same lessons and hope we have experienced, and that is a big blessing. As Christians, we want to help build each other up, and conflict provides the training ground for learning how to compassionately and truthfully counsel others.
When you suffer with someone, you also develop a deeper love for them, and you understand how to practically support others struggling with relationship tension. Being involved in any type of conflict also helps you have compassion for those struggling with sin because you can recognize how hard it is to break free from the grip of deeply rooted sinful habits and response mechanisms.
We all struggle with responding biblically and we all have sin issues we’re struggling with. As Christians we can help pull each other on to know Christ more as He sanctifies us through trials and dealing with our own and others’ sin.
Conflict Provides Opportunities for Peacemaking
It’s easy to see peace as the goal in any conflict situation. However, peace is the outcome of what should be the goal – to glorify God through reconciliation. Reconciliation can only come about with truth and love simultaneously. You can’t have peace at the expense of “walk[ing] in the light” (1 John 1:5-9) but you also can’t ‘walk in the light’ without being loving to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Truth and love must intertwine for reconciliation to occur.
Walking through conflict shows you the importance of peace that comes from truth and genuine reconciliation rather than just brushing over the issues. When you have come out of the other side of conflict in a Christ-honoring way, you are better equipped to help others do the same.
Our main goal in any conflict situation should be to glorify God and love others, and sometimes that means forgiving and “covering a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 ESV, paraphrased) and sometimes that means calling someone out on their sin. And as we learn and grow through the process of seeking to glorify God in everyday conflict, we will find it easier to know what is important to call out and what isn’t.
Conflict Builds Character
One of the greatest blessings of conflict is that it builds character. As you go through life, you will build character regardless of what you do: it’s your choice whether that is godly character or worldly character.
Experiencing conflict first-hand teaches you to know yourself and accept criticism and necessary rebuke. It’s impossible for us to see all the areas we are sinning in or how we can improve – we all have blind spots – and God uses other people to bring those blind spots to our attention and uses us to lovingly do the same to others. It might be hard to take from some people, but it’s a blessing if we choose to see it as God working in our lives!
We have been forgiven much, and yet we so often forgive very little. Christ forgave us without conditions and yet we still think we can justifiably withhold forgiveness from others if they don’t quite meet our requirements.
Conflict provides an opportunity to build a characteristic of wholehearted forgiveness, one that realizes we forgive not because the person deserves it but because Christ has already paid for their and our sins and therefore, we have no right to withhold what Christ has already generously given to us. Responding to conflict in a biblical way teaches us to show grace and mercy to others and to know what it means to love unconditionally as we trust Christ in everything.
The Hope of Christ in ConflictConflict is hard for everyone involved, but it can be an opportunity to glorify God, build godly character, and grow deeper love for the Lord and others. Click To Tweet
Conflict is hard for everyone involved, but it can be an opportunity to glorify God, build godly character, and grow deeper love for the Lord and others. We’re all learning as we go, but I pray these potential blessings resulting from trials give you as much hope as they have given me.
If we respond biblically in every situation we encounter, He will use even conflict to strengthen our faith and character.
Embrace conflict and you will soon see how being sanctified through trials turns out to be a blessing to us and others.