by Pastor Tim Burt
Ever find yourself fighting battles you don’t want to fight? Most people do at some point. Why? Because conflict happens. It doesn’t just happen with people who are rude or you don’t like. Conflict can happen with anyone including those you love. If only we could understand or remember when conflict does happen, that people aren’t are enemy. Conflict is something that the enemy of our soul loves and works to stir up in our life. He loves it because it so quickly creates so much trouble and ill-will and it sticks with us!
Ephesians 6:12 NLT reveals and reminds us, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” If he has his way (and it’s his full-time effort,) he’d have the entire world fighting with each other. It can be so hard to remember this at moments of conflict but regardless, it’s true. And let me tell you something you won’t want to hear. The devil might be stirring up the other person, but, he might be stirring up and using you! Me? Yes you!
The devil will capitalize and use you if you yield to situations wrongly or with a bad attitude. You will know when that’s happening because you’ll end up furiously mad at people. That’s the sign that the problem is at least partly you! James 3:14-16 (NLT) says, “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” You might say, Well I’m not jealous or ambitious! Those words also mean being contentious or having a fierceness termination to be right. We’ve all failed in that!
The final words of these verses, “…there you will find disorder and evil of every kind” have been the words that have jerked the slack out of me since the beginning of my marriage! The Bible is saying that when conflict begins to fester and feelings grow darker, then we’ve opened the door for the enemy to set the table with “…evil of every kind.” That’s like saying we’re giving the devil a free pass to blow up our lives! We’ve all been in conflict where things have gone south and turned crazy. That’s the enemy at work behind the scenes trying to take you down. We can’t let that happen. That’s a door I want to keep locked and bolted as best as I’m able.
If conflict does arise, no matter what the other person does, I want to handle conflict on my end right. So, when conflict arises, I remember verses that immediately strengthen us such as Proverbs 15:18 (NLT) “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.” And Proverbs 20:3 (TLB) “It is an honor for a man to stay out of a fight. Only fools insist on quarreling.” And, Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV) “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
Let me give you the Tim Burt version of what God is saying. “Calm down. Chill out. Don’t make people your enemies. There are dark unseen forces at work behind the scenes trying to get your goat and cause you to stumble and fall! Be respectful. Be appropriate. Let your words be like the sun breaking through storm clouds! Deal with things in the most Christ-like fashion possible. Let your heart cry UP to God asking Him to strengthen you to do what’s right in the moment regardless of what has happened. Remember, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” Lean on God’s grace and receive His help, regardless of who’s right or wrong. He will help you.”
There’s no formula or perfect strategy for every conflict. God needs to be sought in every battle as to how to stop and defeat the enemy in our lives. We never do well when we try to fight a spiritual battle with human understanding and resources. When we pray and seek God in how to defeat the enemy in a battle, and keep a cool head, He comes and He aids us. Conflicts aren’t always resolved in the moment, but they can be resolved by managing them appropriately! Working through conflict by faith means the defeat of the devil and his attack against us. And loving the one regardless of the conflict more than wanting to win or be right! Doesn’t the thought of that sound delightful? It truly is!
Proverbs 16:32 (NKJV) “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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