Conflict in Relationships - Bear Pit

1. Welcome and a discussion on Phil 4:2-3 - Ken

  1. Conflict is personal and happens to Christians (Euodia and Syntyche) Philippians 4:2-4

  2. In Conflict we must make up our differences as we should, not live in festering conflict or broken relationships…there is no pattern for this in Scripture among brothers.

  3. They need help. It is likely that when we are in conflict we cannot find our way out of the tangled relationship, the sting of memory and the bite of words…we need help. We need others to speak to us, to guide us, to hold us accountable and to pray for us.

  4. Remember–both of these women worked hard for the gospel (they are on the same team!). Meaning, gospel workers can have problems and conflict (in fact most missionaries leave the mission field because of other missionaries…regrettably).

  5. Remember…if you are having a conflict with a Christian, their names are written in heaven. There is an eternal perspective to remember in the midst of the heat of conflict.

Quote from Strauch: “It is helpful to keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with Christians disagreeing with one another or passionately defending our beliefs. This is how we learn, how we sharpen and correct our thinking, and how we help others to improve. The Holy Spirit often uses the emotional upheaval that accompanies disagreement and conflict to get our attention and drive us to make necessary changes in our families, churches, and personal lives. Conflict can help us to discover our character weaknesses, correct mistaken theological ideas, sharpen our beliefs, refine our plans, grow in wisdom and life experience, learn to trust God during difficult times, and deepen our prayer lives.”

If You Bite & Devour One Another, Alexander Strauch


Based on this text:

a. conflict happens even among Christians

b. We are to resolve them even with the help of the community

c. Remembering that God is at work even in these situations.

d. Conflict can be an invitation/opportunity to intimacy not proving who is right.


2. Conflict Basics: Conrad

A.) Definition:

  • a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.

  • A conflict is a struggle and a clash of interest, opinion, or even principles. Conflict will always be found in society; as the basis of conflict may vary to be personal, racial, class, caste, political and international.


B.) Root Cause:

  • Sin is the root cause of conflict - Genesis 3 – beginning of conflict with God, with people, with the world around us. Conflict is a result of sin entering the world:

a. begins with Adam and Eve, they are naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25), they are walking intimately with God in the garden...there is vertical and horizontal peace. But when sin enters they: hide, blame, run, accuse, deflect, avoid, resent each other.

b. this only develops further into relationships: Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Israel in the Wilderness...even Moses wanted to die rather than deal with grumbling Israel (Numbers 11); this carries on into the kingship of Israel: David and Saul, David and Absalom.

  • Even Christians who love Jesus and God's word have conflicts: Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Peter (Galatians).

  • But...not all conflict is because of a specific sin (conflict in relationships is not how they were meant to be)...but there is conflict when there is different desires or different opinions about something...it can become sin by how we deal with it or what it does to our hearts (this may lead to the breakout discussions on the fruit of the spirit).

  • What creates conflicts: specific sins like pride, anger, jealousy, selfish ambition

  • What is the impact of this?

  • We will all experience conflict because we deal with people and live in a broken world.

  • We will all cause conflict in the lives of others because we are all sinners

  • Because sin is the cause, and we are all sinners, there is no room for pride. We contribute to conflicts, and we will handle conflicts poorly because of our sin nature.


C.) Satan is the main enemy in all our conflicts

  • “Your spouse is not the enemy, the devil is.”

  • Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

  • There is an intense power and drive in the devil to destroy relationships. And he works through conflict and encourages us to handle conflict poorly.

  • 1 John 5;19 - and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. The devil’s power is real, and he is opposing Christ, Christians, and any kind of reconciliation

  • Because of this we need to remember that Satan has people captive, and we fight against Satan with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17

  • When we forget this we want to see our enemies, those we are in conflict with, destroyed.

  • “It is easy when attacked by human beings to become angry and to pridefully fight to defend yourself, to raise your voice, and to wish harm on your attacker in your heart, to delight when they fall. We can understand James and John who, when insulted by a Samaritan village that refused to welcome them, asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Luke 9:53-54) (Revitalize, Andrew M. Davis, p 116)


D.) Resolving conflict requires the power of the Gospel

· To seek revenge, to get our way, to be proved right is natural – to show grace, to respond with mildness and mercy again and again requires supernatural grace

· We need the Holy Spirit to enable us with the fruit of his Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control

· The gospel reminds us that all we have comes from Christ that we have been forgiven, so we can forgive others.

· What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 Cor 4:7

· Meditation on God’s grace in our own life should destroy any arrogance we may feel towards our opponents

· The Gospel reminds us that it is about God and his glory, and not us being right.

· In conflict what do you usually want to do? Win! Be the one who is in the right. But is our honor, our recognition more important to us than God being glorified in that situation.

E.) If you don’t have any conflict, you will be lacking in intimacy/depth in your relationship

  • If two people are communicating and expressing themselves there will be potential for conflict. Ex: no fighting in marriage, means someone is stuffing things in and will blow up someday, or shrivel up and die


3. Break out Rooms -Ken

  • Potential responses to conflict

  • Read Galatians 5:13-26; where does conflict come from according to this text? How does this text speak to resolving conflict?


4. Practical Steps to dealing with Conflict (Ken/Conrad)

1. Make sure you deal with it – don’t ignore it

· If we offend each other, hurt each other, and never tell the other person, how can they change? How can I grow spiritually if I don’t know the sin in my life?

· Care enough to confront – that is what friends do

2. Look for the truth in the criticism – there is bound to be something

· Pray about the acquisitions, be humble, and listen to what the Spirit says

· “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Ps 139:23-24. We need to check our hearts.

3. Realize that people deal with conflict differently

· Role of family of origin in how we respond to conflict

· Don’t assume people will deal with it like you

4. Practice active listening

· Repeat back what you hear, seek to understand their point of view, etc

5. Pray!!!!

· Ask God to help you obey 2 Tim 2: 22-26 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.


6. Taking words from Alexander Strauch:

a. Act in Love 1 Cor.13

b. Act in Humility Phil.2; 1 Peter 5:5

c. Control Anger: James 1:19-20

d. Control Tongue: Eph.4:29-30

i. be slow to speak and quick to listen James 1:19, Ps.141:3

ii. gossip kills Pr.16:28 ‘separates close friends’

iii. Pr.15:1 ‘gentle words steer away wrath’

e. Control Criticism

e. Pursue Reconciliation Mt.18:15

f. Pursue Peace Romans 14:19

g. Face false teachers

h. Face Controversy


5. Breakout room – Prayer together

  • Pray for conflict in your lives

  • Pray for courage to deal with conflict with others, and “care enough to confront.”


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