There is one thing that tears up churches more than any other thing. In fact this may be the only reason churches split. What is it? It is a lack of conflict resolution skills.
If you are around people for very long then there will come a time when you will disagree with them. They may say or do something you do not like. They may NOT say or do something, and you might think they should. Maybe you think they should have listened to your advice or come to you for help but they didn’t. Now you’re upset.
Why? We usually get upset out of an elevated sense of self-worth. We see our ideas, actions, motives, etc. as being more pure or better than someone around us.
This is not love. This is pride. Pride is the opposite of love because pride has to do with selfishness, and love is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13).
So, now you’re upset, and what do you do? You let it simmer inside. You think of all the stupid reasons that other imbecile should have done or said or not done whatever it is that you’re upset about. Then you find another friend and talk with them about this issue. Your friend agrees with you, and now they’re upset with this individual. By the way, that’s gossip and slander (2 Cor. 12:20). Then the rumor-mill starts, and before you know it there is a whole army of people looking for blood from this individual.
Their initial action may or may not have been wrong, but the subsequent actions are sinful and devastating to the church that belongs to Christ.
So what do we do? Jesus tells us what to do if someone sins against us:
“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. 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. 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.
Note that this isn’t them offending us. We can be offended, but if they haven’t sinned against us, then we need to check our pride. If we are holding a grudge based on something we are offended by, then we need to drop it and love our brother or sister.
But what if we sinned against them or even cause some strife against them and they aren’t mature enough to come to us first? Jesus addresses that too:
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Notice that Jesus wants us to be about the ministry of reconciliation before we are able to come to him in worship.
If we are holding grudges against our brothers and sisters in Christ that isn’t love. We need to repent because we don’t love God if we aren’t loving our brothers and sisters (1 John 4:20-21).
So, let’s be people who practice the art of conflict resolution in love. Let’s keep our anger and pride in check. You are God’s gift to the church but you don’t have to remind the church of it. You are smart and have great ideas, but so do others. You may think a person should do something, but they’ll never know until you tell them in love. You may not like the actions of another, but you cannot control them – you can only control yourself and your reaction to them. Remember that you are all equal in God’s sight and equally loved by Him.
If we can remember that our love for them is more important than our need to be right then we will be able to get along just fine.
Jesus said the world will know that He is the messiah by our love for one another and our unity with one another (John 13, 17). Let’s be a shining example of that to the world around us.