You know, in the course of human events, as the famous document states, conflict is inevitable. People are imperfect, with flawed perceptions and flawed motivations. Even in the Christian fellowship it will happen. Yahweh is aware of this propensity, hence scriptural guidance for righteous conduct during conflict resolution. Not just guidelines for procedure but guidelines for attitude and demeanor. He knew that we need help to effect restorative conflict resolution, without residual bitterness and enmity. Remember one of the overriding principles of Christian relationships, be they communal or personal, is unity. Unity of spirit is essential to maintain a healthy spiritual relationship with our brothers and sisters. This concept is clearly delineated in scripture, which we will explore in a bit more detail.
Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
John 17:22-23 I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and You in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Colossians 2:2 My purpose is that they be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of Elohim (God), namely Christ.
Colossians 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
We can see from these few scripture passages that not only is unity essential to live the fullness that Elohim (God) would have us, but a spirit of love in unity is also essential. Therefore it is not enough to be unified by itself. If you are unified in bitterness or retribution, you will still be far short of the spiritual fullness Elohim (God) wishes for us all. We are expected to interact with our brothers and sisters in a spirit of love, even in a conflict or disagreement. This idea is borne out in scripture.
Now, there are some guidelines regarding conflicts in the body, particularly regarding accusations and resolutions. Let’s take a look.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-23 Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May Elohim (God) Himself, the Elohim (God) of peace sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Isaiah 1:17-18 Learn to do right. Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come, now let us reason together, says Yahweh. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson they shall be like wool.
Matthew 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to his brother, “Raca” is answerable to the Sanhedrin, but anyone who says “you fool” will be in danger of the fire of hell.
1 Peter 3:8-12, NIV "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of Yahweh are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of Yahweh is against those who do evil".
1 Timothy 5:19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.
2 Timothy 2:11 Yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of Yahweh.
Titus 3:2 To slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Please note the last passage very, very carefully. It is a vital scriptural command. To truly reach a godly resolution in a conflict, there must be an emotional resolution as well. It is not enough to say the words; it is vital that the emotional change takes place. If anger, resentment, rage or malice is held despite words of reconciliation, then no reconciliation has taken place. Remember that Elohim (God) holds the one who thinks lustfully about committing adultery just as guilty as the one who physically commits the adultery. He makes no distinctions.
Also, it is important to realize, that in giving or receiving conditions for reconciliation, no condition that is ungodly in origin can effect a Godly resolution. For instance, in a recent conflict I was in, I was told that until I “came to my senses” and left my husband there could be no reconciliation. How utterly demonic. This person charged me with a condition for resolution that is diametrically opposed to Yahweh’s will and instruction. I was given a condition requiring tearing asunder what Elohim (God) has joined, not to mention rejecting my husband’s headship and authority in my life.
We must always remember, Elohim (God) will never use unrighteous means to resolve anything. He is not the author of the ends justify the means concept. If we utilize unscriptural means to attempt to solve anything, the results will not be pleasing to Yahweh, nor are they likely to be in our best interests.
We must also always remember our roles as Elohim (God) has defined them. As a loving and obedient Christian/Messianic wife, it is neither my role nor my responsibility to respond to charges leveled against me, nor is it my responsibility to respond to charges leveled against my husband. It is my responsibility to report what has happened and what I know to my husband and leave the matter in his hands for resolution, just as it is his responsibility to respond to charges against me and protect me and resolve them for me. It is most definitely NOT my responsibility to address the other party in a dispute, rebuking and vilifying them, nor is it my responsibility to make the matter public. When these principles are ignored and we usurp roles not delegated to us, disaster is the result, with hurt feelings and irreconcilable differences often the result.
There is a price to pay in disobedience to the requirements for godly conflict resolution, just as there is a price to all disobedience. The price is usually unresolved conflict, ongoing anger and turmoil and a loss of the unity and peace Elohim (God) so desires that we live in with our brothers and sisters. I know I have said this before but it bears saying again. Darkness cannot abide in the light; therefore we cannot behave carnally and disobediently and expect to be blessed spiritually. I pray that we all learn to make that distinction.
In conclusion, there are a couple of passages I would like to illustrate to demonstrate the attitude and bearing we should all be striving for as Christians/Messianics.
Gal 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Eph 5:8-11 Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, I beseech you, let us all walk as children of the light, with the fruits of the spirit blazingly bright in our lives. If we are unfortunate enough to be in a conflict let us strive to resolve it to the glory of Elohim (God) and the edifying of our peers. Let us follow the example of our most high Elohim (God) and be abundant in love, slow to anger and faithful to forgive. Amen.