Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Bible teaching about
resolving conflict

The Bible teaching about resolving conflict in personal relationships brings good news! Conflict is inevitable. It happens. It’s painful. You have it. I have it. The question is how can we resolve it?

In this Bible study, I will identify eight principles that is part of a process of resolving conflict. I give a disclaimer. No system in this world will absolutely resolve conflict every time. Including this one. Also, there are many more things that can be said, but I lack space in this Bible study about resolving conflict.

But, the broad concepts here will start, if applied faithfully, to help you create a system that will resolve much conflict that you face on a day to day basis. Hang on. Here we go. 

Resolving Conflict: The Christian Goal

Peace and unity is the goal. Paul wrote, “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). Jesus said the peacemakers are blessed (Matthew 5:9). Again, Paul reminds us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). 

From this you and I see that resolving conflict is important to God. On a practical level, peace is cheaper than war, divorce, counselor’s fees – and it reduces production costs! 

Remember: Preserve Relationships

Have in your mind the idea that it is to your benefit to maintain positive, workable relationships with the people involved. This oil for this process is Christian love, which I have explained in another Bible study. 

If it is your employer, co-worker, fellow church member, ex-spouse, customer – whatever, it is to your benefit to maintain a positive relationship. An exception is if the relationship is so toxic and harmful that it would be dangerous to maintain.

Consider All Legitimate Interests

The Bible teaching about resolving conflict encourages us to not selfishly consider only our own interests in disputes. Paul wrote, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). 

Too often conflict involves one side pitted stubbornly against the other side. Both sides ruthlessly try to prove their side right, and the other wrong. They magnify their interests, and minimize the other person’s interests. It becomes a win-lose trap. This is not resolving conflict, but escalating it. 

Make Wise and Fair Decisions

Paul appeals to this principle, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). Jesus also taught this principle. In the context of church discipline, He said for two or more people to get their heads together, think, and pray about the matter (Matthew 18:15-20). 

Another point: decisions are sometimes fair, but not wise. Let’s say that I drive a Mercedes to work, and my dear wife, Esmie, takes an old beat up 1953 Chevy pickup with bald tires. Esmie complains that the arrangement is unfair.

We could agree that a fair arrangement would be for her to buy a new Lexus. But, would it be wise? No, because we cannot afford even my Mercedes. Actually, when the first payments came due, we would be increasing, not resolving conflict! 

The System Must Work

If the system of resolving conflict has the clash still simmering or raging after a period of time, the process isn’t efficient. It is better to go back to the drawing board and try something else – another approach. James teaches us that if conflict is prolonged, then we are using wrong methods, appealing to wrong information, and engaging wrong motives (James 3:13-4:3).

Resolving Conflict: Don't Violate Biblical Principles

Paul writes, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). He also told us to look to the examples in the Bible to decide which course of action to take (1 Corinthians 10:11).

The information we need in resolving conflict is in the Bible. The problem is discovery, application and motivation. Good common sense, wise men and women, and what we learn from life experience are helpful. Outside advice must not, however, conflict with biblical principles.

Glorify God

Paul wrote, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Resolving conflict falls under the umbrella of “whatever.” It is easy to forget about God when we are in the drama of resolving conflict. Our passions and pain get in the way, and all we can think of is our own problem, and desperately looking for a way of escape or winning. 

Many years ago I became pastor of a church that had gone through a major split. I was sent there to try to pick up the pieces after about 80% of the members had gotten mad and left – including the pastor. The stories I heard scorched my ears! The fighting had escalated to the point of having fist fights out in the parking lot after evening church services! 

According to the Bible teaching about resolving conflict, that did not glorify God.

Prayer

Jesus talked about church discipline, which always carries conflict with it. He said, “…if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). He said to pray.

Prayer calls on Divine power, guidance, intervention, and wisdom in resolving conflict. It must, however, be followed up by enacting biblical principles that apply to the case – in other words, action. 

Forgiveness

The Bible teaching about resolving conflict is unconditionally clear. Jesus instructed us in our prayer life, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Clinging to and nourishing vindictive grudges will eat our soul, rob our creativity, suck away our happiness – and unforgiveness is useless in resolving conflict. 

And as Jesus pointedly taught, how can we expect God to forgive us when we don’t forgive others. 

With this Bible teaching on resolving conflict, Esmie and I wish you the best. We hope you can take these principles and use them to your benefit, and the glory of God. Keep up your good work, stay encouraged, and God bless you in all your relationships. Keep up your study.

Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman

BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS

1. According to the Bible teaching about resolving conflict, what is the goal in relationships? Explain your answer in terms of practical application.

2. Think of a time when you were in a situation of conflict. Which of the principles of resolving conflict in this study did you apply successfully? Explain.

3. In that time of conflict, what principles of resolving conflict could you have improved on? Explain.

4. Why do you think resolving conflict is important to God? Explain in your own words.

5. Referencing the Bible teaching about resolving conflict, why do you think forgiveness is important? List five reasons for forgiveness, and five reasons for not forgiving. 

6. In following God’s example of resolving conflict, who took the initiative (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19)? Should we do likewise? Explain.

7. In the Bible teaching about resolving conflict, explain the principles James give us (James 1:19, 20).

8. In the context of Philippians 1:27-2:7, explain the principles and process Paul went through in resolving conflict. 

9. What is the role of Satan in conflict (2 Corinthians 2:10, 11; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11, 12)?

10. In this Bible teaching about resolving conflict, what stands out to you the most? Explain.

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