by Pastor Tim Burt
I don’t know of more harmful weakness overall in the body of Christ than the unwillingness to work through relational conflict. I would’t be surprised if most of us have had a close friend take offense by something we’ve said or done, (or not done) at some point in life. The majority of all personal daily conflict is born out of miscommunication and misunderstanding. You’ve heard the words and said the words… I thought you said… I thought you meant… That’s not what I said… Yes it was!
Life is fast paced and research shows that the majority of people are not good listeners! If you are congratulations, but, you may want to verify that with your spouse or good friend.
We all have times where we’re like that child who’s laser-focused on something and deaf to our surroundings. We all get distracted. There are countless reasons why people don’t fully pay attention or listen as well as they should. But the bottom line is, those moments happen frequently and lead to the misunderstanding of what we thought we’ve heard. When misunderstanding happens, people get offended because of misinformed perspectives that lead to arguing, offense, and putting up walls. Though the Bible instructs us to resolve conflict, the amount of conflicts in your life that have never been settled to your satisfaction are staggering! Don’t believe me? Just think about it for a few days. Ask the Lord to point them out. He will!
When misunderstanding happens, people work quickly to justify themselves, sharing their view of the problem with would-be sympathizers. That sharing is really gossip. Your justification will always carry your perspective but that doesn’t mean your perspective is right. It’s why God wants to quickly move toward mercy and forgiveness. If issues are not worked out, the chasm between two people grows farther apart and bitterness begins to set in. Then friendships are injured or even destroyed. That’s what Psalms 41:9 (NLT) implies, “Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.”
Two people verbally duking it out—especially husbands and wives, will eventually say hurtful things and even trash each other’s character and reputation. As bitterness begins to take root, it gets more difficult to resolve misunderstandings and issues. This is such a sad thing and especially when it’s over a misunderstanding. Things could be resolved between two Christians if they humbled themselves and took the high road to work it out—especially friends! A person that isn’t loyal to a friendship doesn’t know what friendship is and doesn’t know how to be a true friend. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” The roots of Christian love and loyalty in a good friendship should run deep, yet some Christians act petty and reckless, willing to discard a good friendship over a misunderstanding. That begs the question; Was that person ever a good friend to begin with?
Every Christian’s personal development and efforts toward maturity must have a foundation of forgiveness and overlooking offense. Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) says, “A man’s wisdom gives
him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an
offense.” We forgive others when they don’t deserve it because Jesus forgave us when we did not deserve it. We overlook offense when others do wrong because we desire the mercy of God to overlook our short-comings daily! If this is not the foundation of your maturity then you simply aren’t mature. Ouch! Sorry about that!
As Christians maturing in our faith, we should first; work toward the purging of being easily offended from our character. This is what the Apostle Paul exhorted us to do in Acts 24:16. “… I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” Paul understood how often petty offences could happen and how important it was to overlook them, never giving them a chance to take root.
Secondly, as Christians maturing in our faith, we must learn to value friendships and relationships enough to work through conflict quickly. That happens best when you stop a conflict before it begins. You do that by pausing, calming yourself down, and instinctively thinking, this might be a misunderstanding. Take the time to be sure you are hearing what they said correctly. Staying humble and willing to quickly apologize when there is a misunderstanding is learning to put a dagger in the majority of all conflicts you’ll have—including the imaginary ones you have in your mind! Shut them down!
Third, as Christians maturing in our faith, when you do get into a conflict, you must do your best to value the relationship enough to be the calming agent and desire to work through it with the goal of forgiveness and reconciliation. You may even want to do that when you feel in the right and the other person is being stubborn or reckless. If that happens, then at least you’ve done what’s right, regardless of what they do. You can live with yourself much easier knowing you sincerely tried.
The question for you today is, do you know the true value of a good relationships and have you done your best to guard them? Do you get fickle and trash someone because you are in unresolved conflict? Do you realize how God feels about this? Today is the day to grow up in the Lord and guard relationships, not destroy them. As Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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