How did your parents teach you to deal with conflict with your siblings?
Here are some of my favorite examples of what NOT TO DO:
Put your boys in a cage!
A parent braided her daughter’s hair together.
Now, this is actually a clever idea:
I know of a father who made his sons box to work out their problems.
Now, that’s a fun idea!
I think I’ve found a way for us to work out our problems with other people in the church!
Here’s the problem, as far as I see it: The problem is that many of us had no good role models for how to work out our problems.
So much of what we learn about dealing with conflict comes from watching our parents, which is problematic if our parents dealt with conflict in one of the following ways:
Yelling—Maybe your parents yelled at each other to “work out” their problems.
Laughing—Maybe you had a parent who just made a joke out of everything to avoid having serious conversations.
Avoiding—Maybe your parents just didn’t talk about it. One would leave or one would change the subject.
Medicating—Maybe you had a parent who would get drunk or high to avoid facing conflict.
This side of getting out the boxing gloves, I think we need to know how to work out our conflicts.
The Christians in Corinth were not handling their conflicts very well. In fact, they were suing each other’s pants off.
Jewish people didn’t ordinarily take their problems to public courts, so Paul is really talking to the Gentile Christians.
The Greeks were known for being a litigious people.
They used the courts for entertainment and amusement.
They would have loved shows like the People’s Court.
Taking someone to court was fun for them.
The Greek Christians in Corinth had brought their love for the courts and suing each other into the Church and Paul—who had been Jewish—was deeply offended.
He didn’t understand why they were looking for justice in the presence of the unjust.
He didn’t understand why they were looking for righteous answers from the unrighteous.
1 Corinthians 6:1
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
Ironically, they were eager to judge each other in legal matters, but not in moral matters.
Paul just finished rebuking them for not judging the guy who was committing incest, but now he’s rebuking them for judging each other in legal matters.
It’s easier to sue another Christian than to have a face-to-face conversation where you confront them on their sin.
So, what’s the process we should follow when we have a disagreement with another Christian?
Well, I can tell you it starts with Facebook!
And, here are the best ways to confront another Christian on Facebook:
“I’ll try being nicer when you try being more like Jesus!”
“2 Kings 2:23,24”
Are you not familiar with those verses?
23 He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.
“God and I both know what you did to me.”
Rip a King James Version Scripture out of Context
“Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
“Hey Rhonda Chambers! When I said that I was not as good-looking at Matthew McConaughey and you yelled ‘Amen’ that really hurt my feelings. How dare you?”
No, really. That’s not how we should deal with interpersonal conflict.
We should be able to work out our problems on our own and when we can’t or refuse to, we are disobeying a clear teaching of Jesus.
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
A couple of important questions to ask yourself before diving into conflict?
Do you really have all the facts?
Have you really been “sinned against”?
Is this really my battle to fight?
Is this really a hill worth dying on?
So, how should Christians deal with interpersonal conflict according to Jesus?
Face-to-face confrontation…in private!
Important: Facebook is not PRIVATE!
Take one or two others with you to confront the offender with evidence.
Important: Assumptions & Rumors & Gossip are not Evidence
If the offender is completely resistant to listening, repenting, changing, or doing anything to resolve the conflict, bring it before other Christians (i.e. The Church).
Important: The purpose of this step is not alienation but reconciliation.
If the offender refuses to listen, repent, change, or do anything to resolve the conflict after all of this then you have no choice but to regard the person as someone to be avoided.
Important: We are supposed to love everybody, but that doesn’t mean I have to sit in a fishing boat with you all day…especially if the fish aren’t biting.
In the context of how we should deal with conflict, Paul gives us a glimpse into the future and shows us how we will deal with conflict in the future.
1 Corinthians 6:2,3
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
We are going to participate with God in judging on Judgment Day.
We will judge the world.
No need to start that job too early, because it’s not the right time for that.
We are going to be entrusted to help Jesus in judging the world.
We will judge angels.
Angels exist to serve us.
There are good angels and bad angels.
Apparently, as a part of the final judgment, we will participate in judging them, too.
We are going to be entrusted to help judge angels.
What’s Paul’s Point: If we’re going to help Jesus judge the world and judge angels…
We are more than qualified to work stuff out on our own.
1 Corinthians 6:4-6
4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
We have it in us to work out our problems amongst ourselves.
Relationships are hard work.
But, it’s worth it because we are family.
1 Corinthians 6:7,8
7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
Paul comes back to his earlier point: Unrighteous people have no business judging righteous people.
Are we going to have conflict with each other? Yes.
Should we ask “unrighteous” people to mediate our problems? No.
Why is this such a big issue?
We’re family (brothers).
Family should be able to work it out with family.
We shouldn’t air our “dirty laundry” in front of lost people.
Why? It hurts our witness and just makes the laundry even dirtier.
We are better than that.
Let’s keep reading…
1 Corinthians 6:9a
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Not only will we help Jesus in the final judgment, we will also…
Inherit the Kingdom of God.
Unrighteous people will not judge anything at the end of time, so they have no business judging our conflicts now.
Unrighteous people will not inherit anything at the end of time, so they have no authority over the Kingdom of God now.
Did you hear that?
In Christ, we inherit the Kingdom of God!
How cool is that?!?
Every inherited anything? Inheritance always come by way of a loss and a tragedy.
And, it’s a tragedy for anyone to miss out on the treasures of Heaven because they preferred the pleasures of Earth.
That’s why Paul describes for the Corinthian Christians was “unrighteousness” looks like.
1 Corinthians 6:9b,10
Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Our momentary choices can have eternal ramifications.
Sin is deadly.
Sin is not cute.
Sin is a thief that steals our inheritance.
The righteous will inherit the Kingdom of God.
The unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Let me pause here and make an important point.
Are we supposed to hate unrighteous people? Absolutely not!
I love what Paul reminds the Christians of in verse 11:
1 Corinthians 6:11
And such were some of you.
That’s such an important reminder in the context of dealing with conflict and judging each other.
It reminds us to enter conflict with grace.
We don’t hate unrighteous people at Journey because we’ve all been unrighteous people.
We’re all a bunch of “use-to-be’s.”
I can imagine what it must have been like at Corinthian small group gatherings.
“My name is Joe and I used to be an adulterer.”
And then someone else would say, “Me too!”
“My name is Mary and I used to be a thief.”
And then someone would say, “Me too!”
“My name is Tom and I used to be greedy.”
And then someone would say, “Me too!”
Christians, let’s always lead with grace because we’re all a bunch of use-to-be’s.
We used-to-be a lot of things that no longer define us.
But, there is one thing that we need to remember:
We used-to-be unrighteous, but we aren’t unrighteous anymore.
We used-to-be lost, but we aren’t lost anymore!
We do grace—and we must always do grace—because we’re all a bunch of used-to-be’s!
It reminds us to enter conflict with humility.
We are righteous and we may help Jesus judge in the future, but WE ARE NOT GOD.
Being righteous does not give us a right to be self-righteous.
What does it mean to be righteous?
Every once in a while, a member of my team and I will have a hard conversation. Often, when we’re done, I’ll ask a “DTR” question- a “defining the relationship” question.
I’ll ask, “Are we good?”
Or, in other words, “Is our relationship as it should be?”
Being righteous means….
That we are “good” with God.
Maybe you need a “DTR” conversation with God today?
Are you good with God?
Oh, it’s important to know, the only way to be “good” with God is to be “good” with Jesus.
If you are a Christian, you are good with God…you are not God!
How do we become “good” with God?
Paul tells us.
1 Corinthians 6:11
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
How do we become righteous?
Baptism. (Sins are washed away)
Sanctification. (Supernaturally clean)
Justification. (Being forgiven of all of our bad stuff)
Let me pause here and make another important point.
Does Jesus hate unrighteous people? Absolutely not!
He loves unrighteous people so much that He died on a cross to give them a chance to become righteous…or “good” with Him.
You can become righteous today by putting your faith in Christ.
And then, once you’re righteous you’ll understand the importance of putting down the boxing gloves.
We’re better than that.
We are more than qualified to work stuff out on our own.
We are family.
We work things out when we have a conflict with someone else because God worked things out when we had a conflict with him.
And, brothers don’t hit each other.
But, if they do, they really should use boxing gloves
If you need to make peace with someone today. It’s time to do it.
©2016 Arron Chambers