Christian Conflict Resolution- Boyd Bailey

Posted on by Thomas Smith

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. Matthew 18:15

Christians tend to be too nice, skirting conflict. However, Jesus teaches that healthy conflict is necessary for relational and spiritual growth. It is required to keep clean accounts with others and stay focused on Kingdom priorities. Conflict resolution may be uncomfortable, but if an issue or offense is ignored it can become ugly, even explosive. Conflict resolution requires cooperation from at least two parties. There are two roles in the beginning stages of conflict resolution. One role is the confronter, the other role is the receiver.

If you are the confronter, it is critical to communicate the facts of the situation. If you are loose with the truth and cavalier in your confrontation, the situation will worsen. You probably need to have the details documented and verified. The second critical aspect of the confronter is the spirit in which he directs the conversation. Do not use an accusatory tone of voice. You are there in a spirit of reconciliation and healing. Avoid a condescending attitude, as you are a candidate for the same concerns you are bringing to your friend. Confront in a spirit of humility and grace, with the truth, in love.

The receiver, on the other hand, needs to beware of defensiveness, denial, and defiance. When confronted, the receiver needs to listen carefully and avoid interrupting with petty excuses. After hearing the accuser, the receiver can correct any misconceptions and inaccuracies. His spirit of correction is mature and levelheaded. Moreover, in most cases the receiver needs to apologize. Nine out of ten times a sincere apology from the one receiving the rebuke remedies the situation. On the other hand, a combative environment will just escalate the debate into a stalemate. Then nobody wins.

"Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

So, treat each other as God does, and everyone wins. If there is not a private resolution, then there is the option of mediation. Mediation can involve one or two additional people. If two more are invited it is effective for each party to select one person, both of whom are respected by all. Everyone should agree that the resolution of the mediator(s) is the final word. Whatever is decided will be accepted and implemented by both individuals. A third option is church discipline. This publicly expels from the fellowship someone who is obstinate and determined to remain in severe sin, while still claiming to be a committed follower of Christ.

Indeed, one of Satan’s most effective plans is to lull us into ignoring conflict until it blows up into misguided confrontation. He keeps us busy, hoping the issue or person will go away.

However, remaining uninvolved plays right into the hand of the enemy. To engage with another is to care. To ignore and even gossip about another is to betray. The mature follower of Christ seeks to lovingly warn others of the consequences of unwise decisions. When you take the time to confront another, you could save them from embarrassment and humiliation. They may listen, so give them a chance. Don’t wait until they crash and burn, because they deserve a chance. Grace gives them an opportunity to change. Praise God for those who have offered that same grace to you. We need each other.

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).