It’s easy to worry about the state of our world given the amount of increasing tension; it seems to grow stronger every day.
Conflict plagues the world on a global scale and trickles all the way down to our most intimate personal relationships. We have all – at one point or another – faced people who make it seem impossible to obey God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
But we must realize that although God’s standards are high, they are never unreasonable. This is because God gives His followers all the heavenly tools they need to follow His commands. In order to put these heavenly tools to full use, we must first identify where they are in God’s Word.
One of the most enlightening verses about conflict is Ephesians 6:12, where God reveals, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
We live in a society in which, sadly, we are encouraged to embrace a posture of offense. It seems people actively look for opportunities to be offended by others who don’t see the world from their point of view. But God reminds us our true battle is not against our fellow man, but rather, against spiritual forces of darkness that wage war against our peace and seek to use any and every opportunity to divide us.
Embracing this godly knowledge elevates our perspective and begins to transform how we process disagreements – but sometimes we need more than just knowledge to really live out God’s commands. Thankfully, He provides further help and encouragement in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
As believers in Jesus, we know that these words are not only true, they are promises from a loving God who cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). Knowing this, we should have absolute confidence that when we feel too weak or overcome by temptation to behave in a godly way when faced with conflict, God will always provide a way for us to lean on Him and do the right thing.
Embracing realistic expectations about discord can give us a heightened sense of peace when these issues present themselves.
Of course, God gives us a way out! He is a loving Father who hates dissension more than anyone. He intended that we live in harmony, and even after sin entered the world He continued to instruct His people to love others more than themselves, which sometimes means checking our pride, especially when offering our opinions.
Former TV host Elisabeth Hasselbeck addresses this point in her book, "Point of View," where she writes, “Being right about something is less important than being right with someone.” She adds, “I am more confident that God desires for us to experience the joy of being right with one another, not more right than one another, and that He is asking for where we stand on issues to be way less important and sacred than the God we stand under together.”
What a timely word. Swallowing our pride and putting our opinions on the back burner does NOT come naturally. That’s why it’s essential to seek God’s wisdom and knowledge constantly. Scripture tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Finally, we should never be surprised when dissension arises. Jesus told us, in fact promised us, that in this world we will have trouble. Embracing realistic expectations about discord can give us a heightened sense of peace when these issues present themselves.
This peace also comes from understanding that Jesus has already won a much greater battle – the battle against sin and death – and this same Person, who died for all of our sins, is ready and available to help us in our day-to-day disputes.
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).