by Pastor Tim Burt
In my last blog post, I wrote about the danger of strife and the importance of staying out of it so you could have more blissful relationships. Today, I’d like to pick up where I left off by addressing the dangers of conflict.
Conflict is a part of life. Anytime you have a serious disagreement with someone, you have the presence of conflict and all the feelings that go with it. If feelings could smell, conflict would probably smell like sewage. It feels disgusting and uncomfortable. And it stinks! And it shows up in our life far more than we care for. For most, conflict is painful to work through unless you have a hard heart and just don’t give a rip about people, or unless you’ve become skillful at working through it. The latter would be better!
God wants us to love people to the very best of our ability and to work hard and keeping unity! God instructs us in Ephesians 4:3 (NIV) “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” So, staying in conflict is not His will and He wants us to exhaust our efforts to attain unity!
Satan is the opposite. He’s the enemy of our soul and loves conflict that leads to anger, unforgiveness, hatred, disunity, and even violence. He is euphoric when he can get us to that place. And it all starts with disagreement! If that is the place where it starts, that is the place where it should be stopped because every level after that becomes more complicated. But to stop it at the point of disagreement takes God’s help. You’ll fail on your own because it takes skills taught to us by God Himself. For that reason, God doesn’t want us to love people with only our very limited capacity. He wants us to love people by His standard and with His capacity. You can know that God will always give you the grace (His supernatural help) to manage conflict according to His standard and capacity. The Holy Spirit will remind you of His provision of grace and then help you navigate conflict in a spirit of love that in ways, almost seem like an out-of-body experience when you deliver His skill to do it well.
Growing in God’s love will produce a strengthening of your character that will honor Him, produce fruit for Him, and that will serve you well all of your life. One of the strengths shaped will be the ability to restrain your thoughts and words from running wild in times of conflict, and instead submitting them to the Lord in the moment. As you learn to do that, you will receive His peaceful and calming guidance and wisdom—something that is a supernatural experience. Each and every time you let God’s love (vs. your love) work within you, this power is at work transforming your character. It makes you a better person and one more closely conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Again, it will serve you and Him well.
We all know that when conflict arises, the tennis match of mental warfare—of arguing, debate, fault-finding and blame begins volleying back and forth—in person, and then later in your mind. This is one reason people lose sleep. When they should be sleeping, their mind is in constant replay which is how bitterness begins to take root. Managing conflict should have stopped this before it started but when it doesn’t and things get bad, you still need to get it under control. You do so by submitting all your thinking to the Lord.
Imagine yourself working in a factory with thoughts coming down the line on a conveyor belt. You let the good ones through but you pick up the bad ones and throw them in the trash bucket by your side. James 3:17 becomes our tool of discernment. Memorize it and let it become deeply rooted in your heart. It says,“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” As you yield your thoughts to the Lord, let these words be the rudder and your guide of discernment for the thoughts you allow and the thoughts you trash from your thinking. Ask the Lord to help you rethink your choice of words so that you may comply with the wisdom of this verse. Ask yourself if your thoughts are pure and rightly motivated by God’s standard? Are they peace-loving? Are they considerate? Are they coming from a place of humility, taking in the other person’s side of the equation? Are they full of mercy and good fruit? Are they impartial (viewed with an open mind) and sincere? If they aren’t, dump them in the trash bin. If you think, All my thoughts are trash, then yield yourself to this verse and ask the Lord to help you rethink things with these words of wisdom and guidance as your rudder to guide all future thoughts—especially in conflict!
If you’ll let James 3:17 restrain your mind in how you think through everything, then the love of God—His love, will begin to work mightily in your life. It will literally transform you producing the strength of restraint—the ability to be in control of your thoughts and words guided by the Holy Spirit at work within you. You’ll be able to restrain your tongue and not say things you regret. You’ll be able to capture thoughts instantly allowing right thinking and casting down wrong thinking. You’ll become more patient, more reserved, and one that operates in godly love and wisdom. Over time, you will literally be able to step back and observe just how God has transformed you into new person.
So, take some time and write these words down. Put them in your pocket and carry them around until you have committed them to memory. Take them to the Lord in prayer. You don’t have to wait until conflict comes. Start that conveyor belt and begin trashing any thoughts that don’t line up. Ask God to help you see things through His eyes and let His love help you see more clearly. The practice of restraint—biting your tongue and realigning your thoughts, is life changing and will reshape who you are! God’s grace is available to you! So, it’s time to do it now! It’s powerful!
Proverbs 19:11 (TLB) “A wise man restrains
his anger and overlooks insults. This is to his credit.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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