by Pastor Tim Burt
Although many people get in conflict—much more than they want, few people love it. The truth is that if anyone loves conflict, they’ve got a problem. Peace, harmony, and unity through the promotion of love, kindness, and preferring one another should be the desire of anyone’s heart. Pause and think for a moment. Is it yours? Is working toward peace, harmony, and unity through the promotion of love, kindness, and preferring one another a rudder in your life? This is something we are exhorted to learn to live by through the instruction of God’s Word. Peace, harmony, and unity are something more than just a nice thing to pursue. It should become a desire and core value shaped within you by the Holy Spirit as He teaches you how to live Christ-like.
Today I want to present to you a simple truth that will lead to more peace in your life. If you would first incorporate it within the belief system of your heart, and then begin to practice it in your life, you would see more peace in your daily dealings. The reason being is that it is a principle of God motivated by love and a desire for peace.
In 1 Kings we read that King Solomon had just died. During his reign, his kingdom had experienced 40 years of peace which may have been the longest and most peaceful reign of any king ever. His son Rehoboam had begun to take over. He wanted advice about making a change in how the kingdom was run. The people wanted to know what kind of a king he was going to be. They were a tired people. King Solomon had taxed the people hard and worked them hard. Rehoboam went to his young advisers—men that he had grown up with who had little to no experience but were promoted like he was to this new position. He also went to his older advisers—wise men that had served for a great many years under his father with a deep base of experience and wisdom.
We read in 1 Kings 12:9-11 NLT, “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?” The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist—if you think he was hard on you, just wait and see what I’ll be like! Yes, my father was harsh on you, but I’ll be even harsher! My father used whips on you, but I’ll use scorpions!'” This was cruel and uncompassionate advice from inexperienced, cocky, and egotistical novices gloating in their new power.
The older advisers gave Rehoboam contrary advice. “The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to serve the people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.” 1 Kings 12:7 This is not the advice that Rehoboam took but it is the advice that would have won over the people and the kingdom. He refused it and instead listened to his young advisers taking the advice that doomed his kingdom and reign.
Proverbs 15:1 NIV tells us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” It’s more than just the gentle answer that has true results. It’s the gentle answer that comes not as a manipulative tactic, but from a sincere and caring heart that desires unity and peace and the best for others.
Some people have simply fallen into the disastrous habit of anger and bitter responses from a mind that thinks and expects the worse. Others respond from an unbridled ego that seems to foolishly love conflict and get joy out of flexing their muscles, stoking the fires that provoke anger and enjoying it like its a game! It’s sick but many people are sick in their minds in this way.
This should not be the case of a Christian. If you are a lover of God, then you have the Holy Spirit instructing you to be a person that truly wants to love, serve, and help people. When conflict arises, let the Spirit of God arise within you. Instead of defensively sparring back, pause, ask for God’s grace in a momentary prayer, and give a reasonable and gentle answer. Answer as one that takes into consideration what the other person is trying to get across. If you will be considerate of their position and make concessions and work with them wherever you can, then you will not only turn away wrath, you will have people that over time, develop respect for you, and are more loyal and willing to work with you. And you’ll experience much greater peace and harmony in your life. The ones that don’t, avoid working with! There hearts are probably hard and nothing except prayer will help them. Romans 12:18 (NIV) says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This is saying to sincerely do your best. But you can’t control what others do.
Completely avoiding conflict never resolves anything but dealing with it in a godly way is God’s expectation for us! Some points of conflict are too great to deal with at the moment. Bathing situations in prayer can turn situations where they can eventually be worked through. Prayer is a key part of conflict resolution in God’s World. But avoiding conflict because you are afraid will seldom produce faith-filled prayer that results in resolution. Avoidance because of fear will only delay and sometimes allow a situation to grow worse.
When your heart has been transformed by God to sincerely want things to work out with people, and you have a heart to serve people and make adjustments where necessary, then you can kindly but boldly approach difficult situations and conflict and work through them. You can because your heart is not stubborn, you are not selfish just to get your way, but rather, your heart desires to work toward the best resolve possible. When you’ve learned this, you have begun to become a master communicator! As I said, not everyone you work with will be compromising or agreeable. Sometimes conflict resolution goes horribly. But if you’ve followed God direction and made the effort to work kindly with others, then you can know you’ve done your part and be in peace about it!
A heart to serve and a favorable answer is a heart that sincerely and respectfully takes in the interests and concerns of others. It’s the heart endeavoring for agreement and harmony where possible. And it will lead to less conflict and more peace!
1 Kings 12:7 “If you are willing to serve the people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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