Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dealing with Conflict

I am currently leading our congregation through a study of I Corinthians during morning worship. Even a cursory reading of Paul's letter signals to the reader that this church had major problems. 

The first problem Paul addressed was the way they handled conflict. This got me thinking about the wisdom of Proverbs in dealing with human conflict. 

Conflict can actually be good if handled in a godly and honest way. Some of us come from homes and relationships that avoided conflict and fostered a peace at any cost relationship. This is not a helpful way to live. Like compressed steam without a release valve, conflict avoidance eventually explodes, destroying a marriage, a friendship, even a church. 

Conflict is a given. But how do we process our differences in a manner that is constructive? Is this even possible? The writer of Proverbs seems to think so. 

Anger Management
The greatest source of strife and conflict comes from an inability to control one's feelings. Move your cursor over the following verses and you will see what I mean:
Proverbs 10:12
Proverbs 13:10
Proverbs 15:18
Proverbs 17:14  (I love the imagery behind this text)
Being angry is not a sin; but Scripture's advises be slow to anger and be quick to listen (James 1:19; Proverbs 16:32).

Filled with the Spirit
Scripture commands us, "Be filled with the Spirit!" Signs that the Holy Spirit is in control are evidenced through attitudinal fruits of the Spirit. 
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

God did not give us the power to control how another person might act or react toward us. But God has given us the power to control how we respond in given situations. Being filled with the Holy Spirit and managing our emotions goes a long way in handling every imaginable conflict. 

To the reader: What other steps should be considered when dealing with conflict?