by Pastor Tim Burt
I don't know of more harmful weakness overall in the body of Christ than the unwillingness to work through relational conflict. I would’t be surprised if most of us have had a close friend take offense by something we have said or done, (or not done) at some point in life. The majority of all personal daily conflict is born out of miscommunication and misunderstanding. I thought you said... I thought you meant... That's not what you said... Yes it was!
Life is very fast paced and the majority of people are not good listeners! If you are congratulations! But, you may want to verify that with your spouse or good friend. I think most women think their husbands are not great listeners but, that could easily go both ways. Any of us, at times, can be like that child who is laser-focused on something and is tuned out to his surroundings. Anyone can get distracted. There are a thousand reasons why people don't pay attention or listen as well as they should, but the bottom line is, those moments happen too frequently and they lead to hearing something wrong that leads to misunderstanding. When misunderstanding happens and people are arguing because they are needlessly on the wrong page, the walk away from each other, stew, and the relationship grows colder.
You know this happens too often and if you aren't thinking of one of those incidents right now, don't worry, one will most likely show up in your life soon.
When misunderstanding happens and it's not worked out, the temptation for offense that then leads to words of gossip in the name of justification begin to spill. Rather than reconciliation happening, the chasm between two people grows farther apart, bitterness begins to set in, and friendships are injured or even destroyed. That’s what Psalms 41:9 (NLT) implies, "Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me."
Two people verbally duking it out, especially husbands and wives, will eventually say hurtful things and even trash part of their character and reputation. This is such a sad thing and especially when it's over a misunderstanding. Things could be resolved between two Christians if they humbled themselves and took the high road to work it out—especially friends! A person that isn't loyal to a friendship doesn't know what friendship is and doesn't know how to be a true friend. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” The roots of Christian love and loyalty of a good friendship should run deep, yet some Christians act petty and reckless, willing to discard a good friendship over a misunderstanding which then begs the question; Was that person ever a good friend to begin with?
Every Christian's personal development and efforts toward maturity must have a foundation of forgiveness and overlooking offense. We forgive others when they don't deserve it because Jesus forgave us when we did not deserve it. We overlook offense when others do wrong because we desire the mercy of God to overlook our short comings daily! If this is not the foundation of your maturity then you simply aren't mature. Ouch! Sorry about that!
As Christians maturing in our faith, we should work toward the purging of being easily offended as one of our top pursuits—working to remove it completely from our character. This is what the Apostle Paul exhorted us to do in Acts 24:16. “… I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” Paul understood how often petty offences could happen and how important it was to overlook them and cast them out of his life, never giving them a chance to foster.
We need to value our friendships and relationships enough to do our best to work through conflict. That happens best when you stop a conflict before it begins. You do that by pausing, calming yourself down, and instinctively thinking, this might be a misunderstanding. Take the time to be sure you are hearing what they said correctly. Staying humble and willing to quickly apologize when there is a misunderstanding is learning to put a dagger in the majority of all conflicts you'll have. Including the ones you have on your own with someone in your imagination when you've actually not even engaged them!
And when you do get into a conflict, do your best to value the relationship enough to be the calming agent and desire to work through it with the goal of forgiveness and reconciliation. You may even want to do that when you feel in the right and the other person is being stubborn or reckless. If that happens, then at least you've done what's right, regardless of what they do. You can live with yourself much easier knowing you sincerely tried.
Yesterday, I received a call from someone who was upset with me. They misunderstood a situation and thought I made a poor decision. When I listened to what his complaint was, I could hear that he had wrong information. I let him say what he had to say and then I calmly explained that the information he had been given was wrong and began to give him the correct information. He continued to talk over me believing he was right. I didn't argue. I had tried to explain,
The question for you today is, do you know the true value of a good relationship and have you done your best to guard it? Do you get fickle and trash someone ruining their reputation because you are in unresolved conflict? Do you realize how God feels about this? Today is the day to grow up in the Lord and guard relationships, not destroy them. As Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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