The Scripture tells us that God is not the author of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). The implication is that wherever there is conflict among the children of God, we can be sure that Satan is at work. Satan’s plan is to create conflict among God’s children so that he may divide and ultimately defeat us. If we spend all our energy fighting one another, we will have no strength left to fight him and he can then defeat us one by one. If we hope to be victorious as the children and church of God, we must learn how to resolve conflicts biblically, so that they will not cause division among us and lead to our defeat.
Thankfully, the Word of God provides abundant guidance on how we as God’s children must resolve conflicts. No other passage of scripture addresses the issue more clearly than Matthew 18:15-20, where our Lord Jesus Christ himself says:
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
Matthew 18:15-20 KJV
A review of this key passage along with other passages of scripture reveals eight (8) biblical principles that are critical to resolving conflicts among believers, whether they occur in the home, in the church or in the course of business. If we follow them meticulously, we will spare ourselves countless hours of tension and grief and frustrate Satan’s plan to divide, distract and, ultimately, defeat us. The principles are as follows:
- Conflict must be addressed proactively – Expect conflict because Satan is at work in our homes and even in the church!! He is constantly looking for believers to use in his devilish work and unless we remain on guard, all of us are susceptible to his use. He once used Peter, the disciple of our Lord, in a bid to defeat the plan of God. If he could use Peter, he can use anyone, including you (Matthew 16: 23);
- Conflict must be addressed personally – Do not avoid dealing with conflicts when they arise. If a person offends you, it is your responsibility to go to them (Matthew 18:15). On the other hand, if you know that you have offended someone, it is your duty to go to them (Matthew 5:23-24). Either way, it is your responsibility and refusing to do so is a sin, no matter the excuse;
- Conflict must be addressed prayerfully – Pray for wisdom on how to approach the other party (Proverbs 3: 5 – 6). Ask God to help you choose your words and to give the other party the mind to reconcile (Proverbs 51:1);
- Conflict must be addressed promptly – Approach the other party as soon as possible after the conflict arises. If possible, do it on the same day. Delay only gives Satan more time to work and makes things worse (Ephesians 4: 26 – 27);
- Conflict must be addressed privately – As much as possible, settle conflicts between you and the other party alone (Matthew 18:15). Resist the temptation to tell everybody about the conflict. If you must tell someone, tell it to God in prayer first and then to the other party next. Involving others can lead to distortion of the story, defensiveness on the part of the other party and division in the church;
- Conflict must be addressed progressively – If your attempt to work things out privately is unsuccessful, seek out a spiritually-minded person to help resolve the matter. The person may be a deacon, minister or any other person that you trust. If the person refuses to reconcile after you approach them with others, tell your pastor so that the matter may be brought before the entire church (Matthew 18: 16; Galatians 6: 1);
- Conflict must be addressed permanently – Once the conflict has been resolved, you must forgive the other party. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It only means that you have made a decision to stop bringing up the issue in the course of your future dealings with the other party. Failure to forgive is a sin. It has destroyed many relationships and ruined many relationships, homes, churches (Matthew 6: 12); and
- Conflict must be addressed patiently – Have faith in God and be patient. Follow the Word of God as outlined in these principles and wait for God to produce the desired result (Hebrews 11: 6). Note that there are eight (8) principles. Patiently implement all of them.
Beloved, God has positioned us victory. Let us work together to secure the promise of God in every area. Let us remember that Satan is the enemy and not our brothers and sisters. Whatever strength we have, let us use it against the enemy and not against one another.