When Christian friends do not resolve their conflict swiftly, their lives are a hindrance to others.
Family Counseling Ministries -
In this final article of a three-part series on conflict between friends, Dr. Dunlap urges Christians to resolve any conflict that exists between themselves and someone else. He offers readers four practical steps that they can implement when they are unable to resolve disagreements. He emphasizes the importance of resolving conflict swiftly and lovingly.
Two Christian friends, Katherine and Linda, met with me so
that I could mediate their ongoing disagreement concerning how to lead a
womens prayer group in our church. After we defined the problem, listed the
obstacles to solving the problem, determined what points they agreed upon, and
identified each persons contribution to the misunderstanding, we continued
with the final step.
Fifth, I asked them if they were willing to make
several changes and take certain steps in order to reach a solution. They assured
me that they were, and we began to work together on a list of specific
suggestions that they would begin to implement immediately.
explained to them that they had disobeyed Gods Word by focusing their
attention and energy on each others offenses rather than seeking to restore
each other in love. I urged them to focus instead on their own weaknesses
and blind spots and reminded them to be careful to examine
themselves before evaluating someone elses behavior. We discussed Romans
2:1, Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment,
for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge practice
the same things. Then I directed their attention to the command of Romans
14:13, Therefore, let us not judge one another any more.
cautioned them of the danger of forming opinions based on first impressions.
Katherine wrongly assumed that Linda was gossiping about her to the younger
woman in the prayer group, and then she looked for evidence to confirm her
I pointed out that Linda, on the other hand, had acted
unwisely by seeking someone elses advice in the matter without Katherines
prior knowledge and consent. I urged them both to make a commitment in the
future to check the accuracy of all facts and all related circumstances before
reaching a conclusion in any matter.
admonished them for exposing each others faults to other people. Each woman
had complained to her husband and children about the other womans behavior. I
exhorted them to always deal as privately as possible with any future
situations. I read them Proverbs 17:9, He who covers a transgression seeks
love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.
challenged each woman to seek the others welfare above her own. Someone whose
primary motive is self-seeking will withdraw his fellowship from a brother or a
sister, and avoid him or her as a means of punishment. I asked them if they
believed that they had obeyed Gods commands to prefer one another in love
and to consider others as more important than themselves.
I went on to read them the command in Hebrews 12:15,
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that
no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
They both agreed that their bitterness had defiled other
people. Then I read the warning in James 4:6,
God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
Katherine and Linda acknowledged the fact that they had
been unwilling to humble themselves before each other. As we bowed for prayer,
they asked for Gods forgiveness for their willful pride and for having judged
each other. Then they sought one anothers forgiveness. Together we petitioned
God for wisdom in making the necessary decisions to lead the womens prayer
group in a way that honored and glorified the Lord Jesus Christ, and in a way
that incorporated both of their leadership perspectives.