Monday, September 14, 2015

Bouts of Conflict: Jesus our Referee

Conflict. I hate it.  I love peace, and I have been known to try and keep “peace” even when a little honesty and airing of disagreements would have served the relationship far better.  So if there are any of you out there who looked at the very TITLE of the post and didn’t want to read it, trust me, I get it.  

Yet Jesus had commands about handling conflict.  Teachings that are as uncomfortable to conflict avoiders like myself as they are to the confrontational.  I suspect that we would have real peace-the kind that’s all about reconciliation- in our churches and our homes if we would allow Jesus to referee our quarrels.  

Don’t allow yourself to be guilty of asking if the rules “work.”  Boxers know full well that a blow below the belt “works!” Rather the rules of the game are for the protection of all the players.  And if you are dealing with a cheater?  Let the Referee worry about him.  You play by the rules!

1. No name calling- This includes not only shouting curses but labels like “Pharisee,” and the venomous “Lib-tard.”  Jesus declares that this is an issue that can make you guilty enough to be sent to hell.  We have to tread very carefully here.

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:22)

2. Every word counts- Jesus insists that what comes out of a man’s mouth reflects the contents of his heart.  That alone should be enough to make us blush for every time we’ve excused ourselves with “I didn’t really mean that!” Worse yet, he says we’ll standing in front of the Judge of the living and the dead one day and have to account for those words (Matthew 12:33-37).

For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:37)

3. No pretending with God- When things are out of sync with our brothers and sisters because of our sin, things are out of sync with God.  We can’t go on cheerfully praising Him, while we allow some sin of ours to infect a relationship. How many conflicts at home and in the church would be put to rights if the person in the wrong (both people many times) simply went humbly to the other and confessed their sin?  Put down your Bible, leave your prayer closet, walk out in the middle of the sermon on Sunday morning and make things right! 

 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)

4. No personal vengeance.  None.   Although we make allowances in our heads for times when you have to “stand up for yourself,” by which we often mean more than simply, quietly telling the truth, Jesus says we may not retaliate.  At all.  Instead we are to bear the evil that the wicked do against us. As we will see in the next post this does not mean we should not confront our brother with his sin, or involve the church if he will not repent, but it does mean we cannot, must not, seek vengeance.

You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.  (Matthew 5:38-42)

5. Forgiveness is not optional. God, who gave his only son for the very people who crucified him, has walked all the way down the road of forgiveness.  And He can’t meet you there, if you won’t walk down it too.  There is no forgiveness for our sins, while we hold on to the sins of others.

 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Conflict is unavoidable.  People sin.  I sin.  Even when we are innocent, we disagree.  In those moments Jesus has clear instructions for us. Rules for how to deal with conflict and come out on the other side brothers and sisters not enemy combatants.  If not for the sake of peace and community then for the sake of your soul, I urge you: Follow the Rules!



  1. Love this! Just posted on conflict this week. Love the idea that forgiveness is not an option!

  2. You offer much wisdom in this post. May we reflect Him, yes, even when in conflict. Blessings!

  3. Great rules to live by-I especially like, "Forgiveness is not an option."

  4. Really love this. Thanks for linking up at Bonbon 'n' Coffee. We so do need to remember those rules.

  5. Thanks for linking at Mondays @ Soul Survival! Blessings!

  6. This was such a timely post...sometimes it is hard to forgive, but when I consider all of the times God has forgiven me, I feel very unworthy before Him, and it makes it easier for me to forgive the offenses of others. So thankful to visit with you today, my friend. God bless you!