Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The End of Conflict

By Allen White

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. Matthew 5:25-26

Every conflict ends in one of two directions: you either have kept a friend or created an enemy. The “friend” route can be anything from “let’s agree to disagree” and tolerate each other to “let’s forgive and forget.” The “enemy” route ranges from a quiet resentment to angry outbursts.

There is a middle road – the passive-aggressive approach, which says that “I will treat you like a friend for now, but when the time is right, you’re done.” Remember, passive-aggressives will always get you in the end.

The choice is ours. Will we pursue forgiveness or frustration? Reconciliation or resentment? Unless we intentionally decide to sever the relationship, which never makes it actually go away, the only path is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not time consuming. Getting ourselves to a place where we are willing to forgive just might be. But, the longer we allow an unresolved conflict to hang out there, the more trouble it becomes. This is why Jesus encourages us to keep short accounts.

It’s not our job to punish someone else for their faults by withholding our forgiveness and our relationship. God is the only rightful judge who can decide such punishments (Acts 17:30-31).

Paul said not to let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26-27). If we’ve offended someone or vice versa, the biblical timing is to resolve the issue by day’s end. If we let problems linger, then it tends to get blown out of proportion and to involve people who shouldn’t be involved.

Relationships are hard work. Unless you are completely detached and slightly in denial, there will always be friction between human beings. Any relationship that is worthwhile is high-maintenance. Auto-pilot in relationships always ends with a crash landing.

Now, rather than beating yourself up about how you should have handled things in the past, what is on your agenda to resolve today? Where do you need to make a step toward reconciliation? Don’t just “Bless their hearts.” How can you actually work to resolve it? What do you need to confess to them? What do you need to apologize for? Don’t hesitate. The time is now.

Reconciliation may or may not follow. Time will tell on that. Forgiveness is the start.

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