How do you resolve conflict?

It takes all sorts to make the world; different backgrounds, personalities, and opinions can create an environment of disagreements. It’s not just a difference of opinion, but we are also pitted against people with different abilities and ambitions. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. Sometimes to get ahead, we may have to first run the gauntlet of those who don’t want to see us succeed. Opposition is part of life. How do we overcome it?

“Consider the other’s betterment before your own.”

6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. 7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left. ( Genesis 13)”

Seek a peaceful resolution, one that has a mutual benefit. Consider the other’s betterment before yours. Sometimes, we can claim we are entitled to the first dibs, because we have a high opinion of ourselves. Possessions can become a big bone of contention. We may often feel discontented with just having the basics. Wanting the lion’s share , while leaving crumbs for others, isn’t just selfish but also demeaning.  

Abraham and Lot’s livestock had increased and it led to conflict between their herdsmen. Abraham understood land or possessions should not drive a wedge between family members. He chose to give Lot preference over himself. He humbled himself and didn’t choose the best for himself. Our attitude towards others, is usually exposed when we have to give up something. It turns out that Lot winded up in Sodom-later destroyed by God, and Abraham in Canaan—the promised land. 

“Show kindness with a good will.”

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2).

Lowliness of mind doesn’t make us less important. It’s an approach that puts the needs of others in first consideration. We can still meet the needs of the other, while we benefit from the compromise. It’s not selfish to look out for our interest, but it should not be at the expense or loss of someone else. Show kindness with a good will. Humility that looks out for the interests of others, is the balm needed to ease tension.

12 Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? (1 Samuel 24) 

Let’s not be instruments of wickedness to destroy another, but let the Lord be the Judge of our motivation. Whatever the opposition or conflict, we have to do wisely as David—spare life and not destroy it. There has to be a glaring difference between us and  our opponent; difference in methods, and intended outcome. We should keep our hands clean, by doing what is right in God’s sight. We let God deal the full justice, because He is no respecter of persons. In contrast, we tend to be biased by our feelings, rage, and hurt. He has more intelligence on what the other side’s intentions were, whether good or bad.  God only acts and responds on behalf of righteousness.

He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me.18 They confronted me on the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. 19 He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. 20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands. He has recompensed me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God (Psalms 18).

“Let kindness be the final play.”

Our current station in this life, is independent of the harm that befalls others. The fall of others doesn’t increase our chances of advancement nor does it add or take away from our lives. We have no control of any moment we take a breath, so we should never believe that we hold the future of others in our hands. There’s no benefit in wishing anyone ill. We are only custodians of what God has given us, and we will only get what He has portioned for us—independent of what He doles out for someone else. 

With that in mind, it’s pragmatic to believe that hoping for the best for those we don’t see eye to eye with, will not lop off our blessings. We aren’t losing anything by wishing others well. Our Heavenly Father lets His Sun shine on everyone. Let kindness be the final play.

“Wisdom accommodates others without stifling ourselves.” 

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5).

Let wisdom guide our thinking. There’s no prize for winning conflicts, but there are gains or losses in character that will leave a lasting mark. At bottom, we took the side of good or evil; there’s no middle ground. Wisdom is key to keeping our hands clean, and our conscience right. 

Righteousness is a by-product of wisdom. It requires less energy because it’s not bent on self seeking. Wisdom makes us amenable to doing the right thing for the sake of peace. Wisdom accommodates others without stifling ourselves. It benefits both parties, and ushers in peace. God’s wisdom is for those whose hearts are in the right place. God’s wisdom which is activated by righteousness, is the best strategy to overcome conflict.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3).

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