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If your brother sins against you

If your brother sins against you

‘If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.’ Matt. 18:15

Love is the highest value in the kingdom of God. Conflict blocks out love. There is probably no greater challenge to spiritual growth than how we handle conflicts.

Acknowledge the conflict

Conflict is a real thing. It is a part of human nature. Lack of conflict does not equal maturity. All churches and Christians face conflicts. Sometimes it is because we are selfish, sinful and difficult, but often it is just because we are different. As a result of our different personalities, backgrounds and experiences, we view faith and life and ministry in different ways. How often we think that we know best, because it is best for us, and it is tough to compromise. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ (Jer. 17: 9)

You have to do something about the conflict

Why do we not face up to resolving conflict? It is because of pride, fear and stubbornness.

‘Go!’ means ‘go’ or ‘approach.’ ‘Go!’ does not mean ‘avoid’ or ‘pray’ or ‘think’ or ‘forget.’

Why are you getting angry? There are three major reasons: hurt, frustration and fear.

You have to go directly to the person involved. Not to third parties, to mediators or friends.

You need to talk in private. You need to be sensitive approaching the other person as you would like to be approached.

You need to be open to:

1. Describe clearly what you have observed.

2. Explain how it hurt you.

3. Tell what the consequences have been.

4. Ask for what change you would like. Change implies more than a simple apology, although an apology is often a good place to start.

5. Aim at reconciliation. The goal is to restore the relationship. The goal is not to prove who was right, nor to avoid the situation, nor to turn away and forget.

Conflict is a real danger
Some of us have been through extremely damaging conflicts. In serious conflict, reputations can be destroyed, trust can be violated, friendships can be broken, and lives can be shattered. Conflict can do immense harm to individuals and to the church. Conflict endangers the unity that is so essential to the life and witness of Christians.

Conflict provides an opportunity for growth and change
Conflict does not have to be destructive. It is possible to move through conflict and find strengthened relationships, deeper trust, broadened perspectives, new energy, and stronger commitment and unity. Conflict provides an opportunity for growth and change. If we can handle a conflict well, and people stay focused on the issue (not the people), then new energy, commitment and trust emerges. Conflict is not the end. It may be the beginning of something new and powerful.

Some decisions to be made:

1. ‘If you have a difficulty with me, come to me in private not to others! In everything we do, we will be sincere and do the task to the best of our abilities.’

2. ’If I have a difficulty with you, I will come to you in private!’

3. ‘If someone has a difficulty with me and comes to you, send him or her to me. I will do the same for you!’

4. ‘If someone over and over again will not come to me, say: Let’s go to our leader together.’ I will do the same for you!’

5. ‘Be careful how you read me. I will do the same for you. On matters that are uncertain, we will not feel pressured to read other’s feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misread intentions.’

6. ‘If something is confidential, then it must remain confidential!’

7. ‘If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I will not tell unless the person is going to harm himself/herself or the person is going to physically harm someone else or a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.’

8. ‘I am not going to read anonymous or unsigned letters and notes.’

9. ‘I am not going to manipulate. I will not let myself be manipulated. I will not let others try to manipulate me against you.’

10. ‘I will not preach ‘at’ you. I will leave conviction to the Holy Spirit.’

Some warnings and advice from the Bible:

‘The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.’ (James 3:6.8)

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.’ (Prov. 25:11)

‘Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’ (Prov. 16:24)

‘Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you - for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.’ (Eccl. 7:21-22)

‘Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.’ (Psalm 34:13)

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.’ (Matt. 12:36)

Dr. Czeslaw Bassara ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; www.proword.eu)

James N. Spurgeon wrote:

'A job is at your choice; a ministry is at Christ's call. In a job you expect to receive; in a ministry you expect to give. In a job you give something to get something; in a ministry you return something that has already been given to you. A job depends on your abilities; a ministry depends on your availability to God. A job done well brings you praise; a ministry done well brings honour to Christ.'

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