Resolving Conflicts

1 Corinthians 6:3   (NLT)   Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.

As much as possible, I try to avoid conflict. God’s Word tells us to keep the peace if it’s at all possible and as much as it depends on us. There’s not a lot there that can threaten 1 Corinthians 6.3 - Resolving Conflictspeace more quickly than trying to correct a person. But God’s Word also tells us to correct and rebuke.

At least in my own personal experience, it’s harder to correct people who are influential, strongly opinionated, successful, achievers, those who are considered high status in society. The task of speaking with them to discuss a possible wrong they do can be very challenging and highly threatening to the peace we work so hard for and work so hard to keep. It can be daunting. And there may be times when we let things just slide; we just brush things off when the best action is to call wrongdoers on their offenses.

Often, we are accused of judging. And I agree; we ought to not be judgmental people. But the wisest king who’s ever lived taught that open rebuke is better than secret love. There is a place for open, loving rebuke.

No one should intimidate us to inaction. It doesn’t matter how famous, rich, powerful, influential the person is. If they need to be told of their wrongs, they need to be told. We will be judging angels, we’re certainly and sufficiently equipped by our loving God to effectively handle disputes and conflicts between others, even if we’re the ones directly involved.

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Don’t Be Mad

Psalms 37:8   (NLT)   Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.

Not all anger is sinful, but as much as possible we should avoid being angry. When we get angry, it is very easy to lose control. Our anger could quickly, easily, and dangerously escalate to hatred and rage. That is not good for us. We can do things that are very Psalm 37.8 - Don't be Madharmful—not only to us, but more so to others. When we act from deep anger we often don’t think rationally. We act out of extreme emotions. Most of the time, we end up doing things we later regret, but often, it is too late; the damage is done.

There are gazillions of reasons for getting mad. Many times also, we seem to think anger is more effective in getting people’s attention. We feel they take us more seriously when we’re angry, but experience tells us otherwise. Someone very close to me have often stated that she does not respond positively to angry corrections or instructions, in fact, she freezes, and her mind shuts down. Of course, it is difficult for me to understand this, probably because there are times I react positively to anger. There have been many occasions when I did the right thing because I did not want people I love to get disappointed and angry with me. I understand: not everyone is the same. I can only theorize, but it seems like there are people who have a hard time understanding and reacting favorably when being scolded out of anger. We just end up feeling extremely bad; anger does that. Venting out our anger may not necessarily be always a good thing to do; it can be counter-productive.

Praise God; He is not the same as us; He is very patient with us. Just imagine if He gets angry with us as quickly as we do with others. If God finds patience and peace beneficial, it does us well to imitate Him; there is wisdom in it. There will be very disappointing people; there will be very irritating actions; there will be many situations when anger is justified. But as much as it all depends on us, it’s best not to get angry. This does not mean lack of correction, or instruction, or discipline. We still correct, but we do so in a calm, controlled, peaceful, and loving manner. It’s much better that way. We save ourselves from headache, heartache, and high blood pressure, and from big potential of sinning against our immensely patient God and Father—that’s a big difference.

Be Happy for Them

Mark 14:6   (KJV)   6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

Mark 14.6 - Be Happy for ThemJesus corrected the people who were trying to trouble or criticize the woman who broke the alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it on His head. For others, there could have been a much better use for that perfume; for Jesus, what she did was commendable.

Our sincere expressions of devotion to our precious Lord will not be understood by others. That’s very much expected from the world; majority of them won’t understand our willingness to be totally broken and fully spilled out for God. The surprise comes when the misunderstanding comes from fellow believers. Worst is when they don’t only comprehend our actions, but they criticize us—especially when they do so in public, where the lost are watching.

It’s a joy for us learning from others. We welcome suggestions and differing opinions. It’s wisdom to have multitude of counselors. We can learn even from criticisms—if we can call it as such—especially the constructive, corrective, non-judgmental, and non-condemnatory kind—gentle words birthed out of love. We understand and humbly admit we’re far from perfection. We will make mistakes; we will miss blind spots. We’re grateful when others see what we fail to see.

On the other hand, sad to point out, there are self-righteous/know-it-all people—at least that’s how they esteem themselves. Instead of being irritated, annoyed, and angry with them, we pray for them. We pray for us as well. As people of grace, we pray that we will be gracious towards everyone—especially our families—in this context, our spiritual families. Obviously, we have different expressions of devotion. We may feel like there are better ways, but they may have reasons we’re not privy to. What they do may be better than our preference. And that’s our position regarding our differences: they may know something we don’t. With that, we can just be happy for their love of our Savior.

Love in Judgment

Ezekiel 11:16   (KJV)   16 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

Even when God finally judges us or disciplines us, even when we’re suffering the unpleasant consequences of our foolish choices, even when we find ourselves in non-ideal situations, God’s love and grace never stops.

Ezekiel 11.16 - Love in JudgmentThe immeasurable abundance of God’s love and grace can’t be denied; they’re very obvious; we’re surrounded by them and our experiences are inundated with them. But there comes a time when He finds it wise to discipline us, or judge us.

He doesn’t delight in resorting to punishment; He’s slow to anger and He doesn’t execute judgment right away the moment we sin. He patiently does so many things in so many ways to get our distracted attention and correct our brazen rebellion. He tries—over and over and over… He’s a God of second chances; that’s so true, and yet in so many cases, that’s a very obvious understatement.

When we sincerely repent, He forgives us; He doesn’t hold grudges. But I admit, despite our most earnest intentions, we still fail Him. From the time we’ve surrendered our lives to Him until now, how many times has He forgiven us? Second chance—it’s more like millions of chances. So His love, mercy, grace, patience—all these can’t be questioned. When He finally judges people or nations, it’s because that’s the only recourse left if there is any possibility of waking up to the reality of their utter ungodliness.

Even in the middle of judgment, and/or punishment, and/or discipline, God is still calling, wooing, drawing, expecting the rebellious to finally come to their senses and turn back to Him. Of course, there are those who persist in their stubbornness, but there are those who wake-up and realize the terrible state they’re in.  But as for God, He longs that His people be restored instead of destroyed. Even in the middle of judgment, there’s mercy, there’s grace, there’s a promise, there’s hope. What a God!!!

Love, Rebuke, Chastening

Revelation 3:19   (KJV)   19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

God’s love neither contradicts nor eliminates rebuke and chastening; in fact, it’s His love that necessitates them. We don’t hate or reject those loving actions of our Father, as unpleasant as they may be while we’re in them. Instead, we welcome them with open Revelation 3.19 - Love, Rebuke, Chasteninghands, heart, and mind. And we take the necessary actions to correct whatever needs correction.

We’re not only accepting of God’s rebuke and discipline; we’re humbly grateful and appreciative of them. We don’t just tolerate them; we celebrate them. And we don’t drag our feet forcing ourselves to respond and to change; we’re zealous of growing in the likeness of our precious Lord Jesus. We willingly and quickly turn away from thoughts, actions, and choices He forbids. We understand: lack of desire and passion to leave ways that break our Fathers’ heart needs dumping in itself.

Hmmm; let’s see; we repent from Lukewarnness; we want to be hot—on fire for God—passionately loving and serving Him. No, it’s not cool to be “spat out” by Dad; that’s horrible. We repent from materialism, from close-mindedness, from spiritual ineptitude; we pursue Him, eternal and imperishable treasures, wisdom, and spiritual maturity. We repent from evil, unrighteousness, and ungodliness. We choose the good, right, and godly.

Slander Not

Psalm 101:5   (KJV)   Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.

Slander is abhorrent; it ought to be. We don’t involve ourselves in badmouthing and backbiting our neighbors. When people do, we cut them off right away. We don’t allow Psalm 101.5 - Slander Notourselves to become trash heaps; no, we stop it right away. It may be offensive to silence trash-talkers; it may be a humbling or humiliating experience for them, but that may even be something good for them to experience.

Those who spew out negative words about others operate in pride that stems directly from proud hearts. They feel like they’re above and others are below. That they’re better than others may not necessarily be true; they just esteem themselves as such.

We can justify times when there’s a need to speak about the wrongs and errors of others, but when we can make the necessary points without exposing the people, that’s what we do. It’s only when it’s absolutely needed that we resort to exposing the person. But that’s our last recourse. When we know of their sin, instead of slandering them to people behind their backs, we approach them directly and show their faults. We do this lovingly, humbly, gently, boldly, and restoratively.

Conquered Thoughts

2-corinthians-10-5-conquered-thoughts

2 Corinthians 10:5   (KJV)   Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Even in the church, there’s always an ongoing threat of contra-biblical teachers and teachings. There are good-intentioned people who are very opinionated too. There are those who aren’t aware of their biases. They end up with adulterated beliefs that they try to convince other people with. Instead of leading others to a stronger, deeper, and closer relationship with the Lord, their doctrines and practice become sacrilegious.

With love and care, with wisdom, gentleness, and boldness, with restoration as our goal, we show them their errors. Our correction isn’t based on our own opinions; God’s Word is our authoritative basis. The most important and cardinal teachings are laid out plainly and clearly in it; there’s no confusion about them. There, we cast down and take captive erroneous positions and lead them to a place of surrender to the Truth.

There’s no compromise as to this. We’ve been given effective spiritual weapons. They are mighty; they do what they’re supposed to do. God’s Words themselves will accomplish the purposes for which they are sent—not one word will fall to the ground wasted. We take our weapons and use them. Love doesn’t stop us from correcting, rebuking, reproving, and disciplining, it urges us. True love speaks truth, even when it hurts. We who love God also welcome the truth, even when it hurts. Missing the Truth is more serious than many people reckon. Jesus is the Truth: we love Jesus; we love the truth; we prefer Him over everything and anything that goes against Him, no matter how wise-sounding or spiritual-appearing they are. We pursue the truly sacred, not just the sacred looking, and we have the assurance of God’s smile upon us because our basis is His revealed will.