I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NIV)
…When you are angry, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)
Thom Rainer in his blog mentioned 25 of the silliest church disputes he encountered. A handful of them are mentioned below:
A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers (This one is an official cabinet meeting of the church leadership.).
A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer (I just want to know who took the pictures.).
A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue.
A dispute in the church because the Lord’s Supper had cranapple-grape juice instead of grape juice.
Although those fights are not serious, we all will experience conflict in our marriages, families, the neighborhood, or workplace. Jesus promises us that we will have trouble (John 16:33). He did not say may have trouble: he said we will have trouble. No matter how holy we become, how many mission trips we go on, how much we volunteer at missions and shelters, how much money we give, or how often we pray and worship; there will be conflict in our lives.
We do not need to run from conflict or pretend that Christians have no problems. We need to pray, study the Bible, and listen to wise counsel about how to resolve conflict in God-honoring ways. Ignoring sources of division and strife only builds up our anger. I have done this too: I have tried to ignore something until finally I get furious. Bruce Banner, the alter ego of the Incredible Hulk, also would hold in his anger and then would warn people saying: “You wouldn’t like me when I am angry.”
Instead, we should not allow our anger to become sin. Anger is an emotion and is not sinful, but we should find ways to deal with it constructively (Ephesians 4:26).
- Listen to the other person’s story and calmly tell yours. We all have a story to tell. We do not need to make ourselves the heroes and the other people the villains.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry. 20 Human anger doesn’t produce the holy life God wants. James 1:19-20 (NIV)
- Beware prejudice. Prejudice is to pre-judge. We should treat everyone as human beings and not as members of a certain class, ethnicity, gender, or race. Do we treat everyone with respect? The Lord looks at people’s hearts.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
- Look for solutions and not who to blame. Put down selfishness and embrace peace making. We live in an individualistic culture, but Jesus calls us to consider the needs of others.
Blessed are those who make peace. They will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
Prayer: Father, teach us to humbly deal with anger and conflict. Please supply us with the wisdom to make godly choices that respect people and honor You. May we live in unity as peacemakers who are quick to listen and slow to become angry. Thank you for the work of Your Son and Your Spirit in our lives. In the name of the Lion of Judah we pray, amen.