Conflict, Conflicts

* Take the initiative to solve conflict

Facing a potential conflict with his nephew Lot, Abram took the initiative in settling the dispute.  He gave Lot first choice, even though Abram, being older, had the right to choose first.  Abram also showed a willingness to risk being cheated.  Abram’s example shows us how to respond to difficult family situations: (1) Take the initiative in resolving conflicts; (2) let others have first choice, even if that means not getting what we want; (3) put family peace above personal desires.  (NLT)

Genesis 13:5-9 – Now Lot, who was traveling with Abram, was also very wealthy with sheep, cattle, and many tents.  But the land could not support both Abram and Lot with all their flocks and herds living so close together.  There were too many animals for the available pastureland.  So an argument broke out between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot.  At that time Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land.

Then Abram talked it over with Lot.  “This arguing between our herdsmen has got to stop,” he said.  “After all, we are close relatives!  I’ll tell you what we’ll do.  Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate.  If you want that area over there, then I’ll stay here.  If you want to stay in this area, then I’ll move on to another place.”

* Preparing for conflict

These incidents portray two of Abram’s characteristics: (1) He had courage that came from God; facing a powerful foe, he attacked.  (2) He was prepared; he had taken time to train his men for a potential conflict.  We never know when we will be called upon to complete difficult tasks.  Like Abram, we should prepare for those times and take courage from God when they come.  (NLT)

Genesis 14:14-16 – When Abram learned that Lot had been captured, he called together the men born into his household, 318 of them in all.  He chased after Kedorlaomer’s army until he caught up with them in Dan.  There he divided his men and attacked during the night from several directions.  Kedorlaomer’s army fled, but Abram chased them to Hobah, north of Damascus.  Abram and his allies recovered everything—the goods that had been taken, Abram’s nephew Lot with his possessions, and all the women and other captives.

* When it’s wise to avoid conflicts

Three times Isaac and his men dug new wells.  When the first two disputes arose, Isaac moved on.  Finally there was enough room for everyone.  Rather than start a huge conflict, Isaac compromised for the sake of peace.  Would you be willing to forsake an important position or valuable possession to keep peace?  Ask God for the wisdom to know when to withdraw and when to stand and fight. (NLT)

Genesis 26:17-22 – So Isaac moved to the Gerar Valley and lived there instead.  He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death.  Isaac renamed them, using the names Abraham had given them.  His shepherds also dug in the Gerar Valley and found a gushing spring.

But then the local shepherds came and claimed the spring, “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen.  So Isaac named the well “Argument,” because they had argued about it with him.  Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a fight over it.  So Isaac named it “Opposition.”  Abandoning that one, he dug another well, and the local people finally left him alone.  So Isaac called it “Room Enough,” for he said, “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be able to thrive.”

* Conflict not always worth the consequences

Moses tried to negotiate and reason with the Edomite king.  When nothing worked, he was left with two choices—force a conflict or avoid it.  Moses knew there would be enough barriers in the days and months ahead.  There was no point in adding another one unnecessarily.  Sometimes conflict is unavoidable.  Sometimes, however, it isn’t worth the consequences.  Open warfare may seem heroic, courageous, and even righteous, but it is not always the best choice.  We should consider Moses’ example and find another way to solve our problems, even if it is harder for us to do. (NLT)

Numbers 20:21 – Because Edom refused to allow Israel to pass through their country, Israel was forced to turn around.

* Try to make peace first before conflict

When the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar near the Jordan River, the rest of Israel feared that these tribes were starting their own religion and rebelling against God.  But before beginning an all-out war, Phinehas led a delegation to learn the truth.  He was prepared to negotiate rather than fight if a battle was not necessary.  When he learned that the altar was for a memorial rather than for pagan sacrifice, war was averted and unity restored.

As nations and as individuals, we would benefit from a similar approach to resolving conflicts.  Assuming the worst about the intentions of others only brings trouble.  Israel averted the threat of civil war by asking before assaulting.  Beware of reacting before you hear the whole story. (NLT)

Joshua 22:11-34 – When the rest of Israel heard they had built the altar at Geliloth west of the Jordan River, n the land of Canaan, the whole assembly gathered at Shiloh and prepared to go to war against their brother tribes.  First, however, they sent a delegation led by Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest.  They crossed the river to talk with the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.  In this delegation were ten high officials of Israel, one from each of the ten tribes, and each a leader within the family divisions of Israel.

When they arrived in the land of Gilead, they said to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, “The whole community of the Lord demands to know why you are betraying the God of Israel.  How could you turn away from the Lord and build an altar in rebellion against him?  Was our sin at Peor not enough?  We are not yet fully cleansed of it, even after the plague that struck the entire assembly of the Lord.  And yet today you are turning away from following the Lord.  If you rebel against the Lord today, he will be angry with all of us tomorrow.  If you need the altar because your land is defiled, then join us on our side of the river, where the Lord lives among us in his Tabernacle, and we will share our land with you.  But do not rebel against the Lord or draw us into your rebellion by building another altar for yourselves.  There is only one true altar of the Lord our God.  Didn’t God punish all the people of Israel when Achan, a member of the clan of Zerah, sinned by stealing the things set apart for the Lord?  He was not the only one who died because of that sin.”

Then the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered these high officials: “The Lord alone is God!  The Lord alone is God!  We have not built the altar in rebellion against the Lord.  If we have done so, do not spare our lives this day.  But the Lord knows, and let all Israel know, too, that we have not built an altar for ourselves to turn away from the Lord.  Nor will we use it for our burnt offerings or grain offerings or peace offerings.  If we have built it for this purpose, may the Lord himself punish us.

“We have built this altar because we fear that in the future your descendants will say to ours, ‘What right do you have to worship the Lord, the God of Israel?  The Lord has placed the Jordan River as a barrier between our people and your people.  You have no claim to the Lord.’  And your descendants may make our descendants stop worshiping the Lord.  So we decided to build the altar, not for burnt sacrifices, but as a memorial.  It will remind our descendants and your descendants that we, too, have the right to worship the Lord at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and peace offerings.  Then your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no claim to the Lord.’  If they say this, our descendants can reply, ‘Look at this copy of the Lord’s altar that our ancestors made.  It is not for burnt offerings or sacrifices; it is a reminder of the relationship both of us have with the Lord.’  Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord or turn away from him by building our own altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings, or sacrifices.  Only the altar of the Lord our God that stands in front of the Tabernacle may be used for that purpose.”

When Phinehas the priest and the high officials heard this from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, they were satisfied.  Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, replied to them, “Today we know the Lord is among us because you have not sinned against the Lord as we thought.  Instead, you have rescued Israel from being destroyed by the Lord.”

Then Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, and the ten high officials left the tribes of Reuben and Gad in Gilead and returned to the land of Canaan to tell the Israelites what had happened.  And all the Israelites were satisfied and praised God and spoke no more of war against Reuben and Gad.  The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar “Witness,” for they said, “It is a witness between us and them that the Lord is our God, too.”

* Find common goals bigger than your differences, conflicts

The events recorded in chapter 2 led to a long war between David’s followers and the troops loyal to Abner and Ishbosheth.  Civil war rocked the country at great cost to both sides.  This war occurred because Israel and Judah had lost sight of God’s vision and purpose: To settle the land, to drive out the Canaanites, and to obey God’s laws.  Instead of uniting to accomplish these goals, they fought each other.  When you face conflict, step back from the hostilities and consider whether you and your enemy have common goals that are bigger than your differences.  Appeal to those interests as you work for a settlement. (NLT)

2 Samuel 3:1 – That was the beginning of a long war between those who had been loyal to Saul and those who were loyal to David.  As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker.

* Jesus controls the storms, conflicts, of life

Although the disciples had witnessed many miracles, they panicked in this storm.  As experienced sailors, they knew its danger; what they did not know was that Christ could control the forces of nature.  We often encounter storms in our life, where we feel God can’t or won’t work.  When we truly understand who God is, however, we will realize that he controls both the strorms of nature and the storms of the troubled heart.  Jesus’ power that calmed this storm can also help us deal with the problems we face.  Jesus is willing to help if we only ask him.  We should never discount his power even in terrible trials. (NLT)

Matthew 8:25 – The disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”

* Conflict between believers & unbelievers

Christian commitment may separate friends and loved ones.  In saying this, Jesus was not encouraging disobedience to parents or conflict at home.  Rather, he was showing that his presence demands a decision.  Because some will follow Christ and some won’t, conflict will inevitably arise.  As we take up our cross and follow him, our different values, morals, and goals will set us apart from others.  Don’t neglect your family, but remember that your commitment to God is even more important than it is.  God should be your first priority. (NLT)

Matthew 10:34-39 – [Jesus said] “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth!  No, I came to bring a sword.  I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  Your enemies will be right in your own household!  If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.  If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.  If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it.”

* Finding peace in conflict

Sin, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and numerous other forces are at war within us.  The peace of God moves into our hearts and lives to restrain these hostile forces and offer comfort in place of conflict.  Jesus says he will give us that peace if we are willing to accept it from him. (NLT)

John 14:27-29 – [Jesus said] “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.  Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again.  If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, because now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am.  I have told you these things before they happen so that you will believe when they do happen.”

* Conflict need not affect spiritual unity

Differences of opinion are inevitable among human personalities and can actually be helpful if handled well.  But spiritual unity is essential—loyalty, commitment, and love for God and his Word.  Without spiritual unity, the church could not survive.  Paul wrote the letter of 1 Corinthians to urge the church in Corinth toward greater unity. (NLT)

Acts 4:32 – All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had.

* Conflict sometimes inevitable for the Christian

The apostles knew their priorities.  While we should try to live at peace with everyone, conflict with the world and its authorities is sometimes inevitable for a Christian.  There will be situations where you cannot obey both God and people.  Then you must obey God and trust his Word.  Let Jesus’ words in Luke 6:22 – “God blesses you who are hated and excluded and mocked and cursed because you are identified with me, the Son of Man.” encourage you.  (NLT)

Acts 5:29 – But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than human authority.”

* Should Christians go to court over conflict?

In chapter 5, Paul explained what to do with open immorality in the congregation.  In chapter 6, he teaches how the congregation should handle smaller problems between believers.  Society has set up a legal system in which disagreements can be resolved in courts.  But Paul declares that Christians should not have to go to a secular court to resolve their differences.  As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ, so why should we turn to those who lack God’s wisdom?  Because of all that we have been given as believers, and because of the authority that we will have in the future to judge the world and the angels, we should be able to deal with disputes among ourselves. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 – When you have something against another Christian, why do you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter, instead of taking it to other Christians to decide who is right?  Don’t you know that someday we Christians are going to judge the world?  And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide these little things among yourselves?  Don’t you realize that we Christians will judge angels?  So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disagreements here on earth.  If yo9u have legal disputes about such matters, why do you go to outside judges who are not respected by the church?  I am saying this to shame you.  Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these arguments?  But instead, one Christian sues another—right in front of unbelievers!

* – Why did Paul say that Christians should not take their disagreements to unbelievers in secular courts?  (1)If the judge and jury are not Christians, they are not likely to be sensitive to Christian values.  (2) The basis for going to court is often revenge; this should never be a Christian’s motive.  (3) Lawsuits harm the cause of Christ and make the church look bad, causing unbelievers to focus on its problems rather than on its purpose.  (NLT)

1 Corinthians 6:7-8 – To have such lawsuits at all is a real defeat for you.  Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that?  Why not let yourselves be cheated?  But instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your own Christian brothers and sisters.

* Selfish desires often a cause of conflict

Conflicts and disputes among believers are always harmful.  James explains that these quarrels result from evil desires battling within us: We want more possessions, more money, higher status, more recognition.  When we don’t get what we want, we fight in order to have it.  Instead of aggressively grabbing what we want, we should submit ourselves to God, ask God to help us get rid of our selfish desires, and trust him to give us what we really need. (NLT)

James 4:1-3 – What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?  Isn’t it the whole army of evil desires at war within you?  You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it.  You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them.  And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

For more Helpful Inspirational Material:



May you find comfort, encouragement, guidance, hope, inspiration, love,
and peace – May you also find
answers to your question(s) through the Scriptures that address every situation
you face, and help with your problems: ; ;;

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