God’s Plan for Conflict Resolution

Fighting and conflict just seem to go with the territory of human interaction, don’t they?  If you think about times in your life when things aren’t going your way or you don’t get what you want – what is your reflexive response to that? If there is another person involved in the frustration of your desires, how do you normally react to him or her? In my experiences, conflict of some kind is sure to follow such circumstances.

This Sunday as we read James 4:1-12, we will explore God’s plan for conflict resolution.

As you read the first 3 verses, what does James indicate as the source of interpersonal conflict? Does that sync with your own experiences?

Growing up in church culture I had continually  heard James’ warning about “friendship with the world” as an admonition about the music I listen to or the TV shows I watch or the clothes I wear, but that really doesn’t seem to fit the context, does it? Given the context of fighting and quarreling, what do you understand “friendship with the world” to mean?

I find it really interesting that the motive James points to for correcting our approach to conflict is all relational. Marriage, friendship and a Creator who is jealous over our lives provide a much deeper motivation than a  code of conduct with the threat of punishment. Have you ever had a friend who suddenly started treating you like an enemy? How did you feel – and does that help you understand God’s perspective when our choices defy his will?

James finishes off the section by giving some solid direction for how we can approach relational conflicts differently. How would you summarize his basic solution in v7-10? Can you see a way that following this pattern would resolve a conflict between people – how would that work?

V11-12 remind me of a quote from Joseph of the Desert Fathers:  “If you want to find tranquility wherever you are, then, whatever you’re doing, say, ‘Me? Who am I anyway?’ and judge no one.” Can you imagine a life like that, and does it sound tranquil to you? What steps can we take to realize these truths in our lives?

Looking forward to exploring this on Sunday – hope to see you there!

2 comments

  1. It sounds like according to James, selfishness is at the root of interpersonal conflict. We want stuff or we want our way and when people or God’s word are contrary to our desires then our flesh screams! And to be completely honest that does sync with my own experiences. 95% of all the conflicts I deal with are related to me not getting my way or things not going the way I perceive they should. I, me and my, here in lies the problem. Friendship with the world is simply going the worlds way. We know the worlds theme song, every man for himself or what’s in it for me.
    Recently my older son spoke some very hurtful words to a neighbor who was over at our house. I was in the back of the house and didn’t know what had happened. It pained me horribly when his father came over and let me know his son had been crying for an hour over the words my son spoke to him. It felt as if I had some part in the pain because I am his mother and he is a reflection of our family. I love that child and my heart was broken because a part of me had hurt that child. It gave me a glimpse of our Father’s heart when we cause pain to His children. We are a part of HIm, His family and when we are careless in how we treat others God’s heart breaks to. He wants us to rightly reflect His family by bringing refreshment and encouragement to those around us. Just as my heart broke for our neighbor, His heart breaks for those we fail to show His love.
    Conflict resolution appears to be three fold. First we come to God admit our failure. We are reassured He will meet us here. Secondly, sincerely repent, recognize the seriousness of our alignment with the worlds ways. When we hurt others we are hurting Him. Remember, whatsoever we do to the least of our brothers good or bad, we do to Him. Finally, humble ourselves, (lay down our own will, our rights to be right).. die to self. “It’s hard to argue with a dead man”.. as we die to our old ways and pull from His spring of life within we can watch as Jesus brings peace in and through us.
    Easy to say…only with His help..He is faithful!!

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