What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? James 4:1
Are you more likely to trust people first until proven wrong or do you start by distrusting others until they prove themselves as trustworthy? What does Christ want us to do?
The best way to cover your own sins and wrongdoings is to attack someone who is good and righteous, because it will throw the dogs off your tracks, taking the attention off you and placing it elsewhere. In addition, a righteous person will not defend himself, as he/she is rooted in Christ, and not in the world. The best way to attack someone is to judge him/her! However, if you are rooted in Christ, such tactics should nauseate you in disgust. A Christian must exercise discernment as well as kindness, and not follow the evil desires of the Will and the world. This is not merely a theory; it is a mandate from our Lord!
It is characteristic of our fallen, human, sinful nature to see the faults in others; however, more often than not, the very faults we point out in others are those we have, too! We have to be willing to look at ourselves, our flaws, and the things we need to improve on, and place our focus there. Our responsibility is to grow in character, not point out faults in others-unless it is done through the relationship of a mentor, and with the disposition of the Fruit of the Spirit. For good relationships to be built, we have to be willing and able to treat others in the same manner we want to be treated.
Thus, we must be willing to examine ourselves to make sure we have not offended. If we have done so, we must be open, honest, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation (Matt. 7:5).
Jesus tells us, "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Seemingly harsh words perhaps; however, when you see what is at stake, they are very kind. Speck and plank in the eye refer to the need for eye surgery. In the Greek, it is a word play, using hyperbole speech-exaggeration for emphasis that is both shocking and humorous. This means we must correct our own faults by removing the beam from our own eye; then we will able to see, discern, and help others who are not dealing with their faults (Gal. 6:1-2). This is paramount before we can prevent and/or solve conflict. The parties in question must examine themselves in the Light of His Word and be willing to confess, repent, and change for the better.
Why? Because, it is wrong for anyone to focus their attention on the speck in his brother's eye while his/her own eye is occupied with the same, or another fault (Psalm 18:25-26; Rom. 2:1)! We are called to judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24; 1 Cor 5:9-13; Gal. 6:1; 1 John 4:1). We are to be discerning, and not allow immorality and false teachings to emerge from the Church, or allow such things to attack the Church from the outside. It is just as the U.S. military is commissioned to protect citizens from enemies, both foreign and domestic! The Lord is also condemning judging in the spirit of self-righteousness and condemnation, without mercy or love (Luke 6:36-37; James 2:13).
Are You Willing to Confess and Repent?
Repentance is exhibited when we are remorseful for our sins and seek to turn around to God. It requires us to employ our faith and repent which means to embrace the liberation, empowerment, and abundance we have in Christ by completely and utterly turning away from our sin (as in our wrong desires and deeds that we have done to others), and then move toward His love and plan.
This affects our conflict resolving greatly, because when we do not practice this Discipline, the result is relational destruction! We are choosing not to serve the Lord. This will significantly cost us in the loss of abiding peace and a life without the abundance of Christ will result in a loss of His penetrating love and care. We will lose out on so much more too, such as hope and faith, and a life that produces goodness, fruit, and that impacts others positively. We will not even have access to God's governance and guidance so that when the tough times of life come our way, we will be alone, tossed about by the seas of life and stress with only our feeble pride to anchor us; and it will only serve to sink us. Our real repentance will show the manifestation and fruit of His ways. If not, something is very wrong.
In addition, if we do not repent and confess, the waywardness of our sinful nature will resume and take control; this allows us, as a "Christian," to act one way on Sunday and another on Monday, developing and engaging in conflict, so such things as strife, factions, gossip, bitterness, anger, and withdrawal will cause us to act the opposite of God's call! When we do not confess, we are not doing what is right; in fact, we are even fighting against God (Matt. 4:17; 27:3; John 10:10; 2 Cor. 7:10-11).
· Repentance is not just sorrow or regret for what we have done or even the desire to change our minds. Rather, it is the changing of all we are-our goals, aspirations, values, and behaviors-so that we turn a complete 180 degrees from the way we were (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Repentance is a life that really has been changed!
· If you are a Christian and have strayed from His path in small ways or big ways, stop and repent. Jesus is calling you back to His love. He asks you to remember who you are in Him and Who He is, to hold on to Him and to dwell in Him.
· How we respond to life and other people will be rooted in how we respond to God. Do we fight Him or do we glorify Him? How do we know? The answer is in how we are with our wiliness to repent, to be humble, and release our pride so we want to repent to draw closer to our Lord and be better with others, too. How we fight with and manipulate others will show how our attitude is with God. Repentance will be a significant factor in our attitudes and mindsets; are we humble or proud?
· We are to conform our lives to His Way so our faith applies to our lives. This means we come to the grace, forgiveness, and authority of Christ; because of Him, we keep submitting by the application of His precepts to our lives that result in maturity and spiritual growth.
We have to be willing to declare: I, as a follower of Christ, bought and paid for by His shed blood, must acknowledge my own sinful nature. If this is not in your practice and in your mindset, you will fall way short of His plan and possibly even His redemption for you (not lose your salvation). All of humanity is fallen from God; we are corrupt in our thinking and actions. Unless God's Grace is not only flowing in us, but is also being emphasized and utilized, we will fail to make the right decisions. Our sinful nature directly relates to our daily lives and how we lead our church. Each of us must commit to ongoing confession in this area, from the trivialities of daily life to battling lust.
Being willing and able to confess sin will renew your mind and prepare you to be a more effective and used-by-God Christian, because you will have given yourself to God, mind as well as body. Just think through what He has done for you, the incredible amount of forgiveness you have received, and your response to what He has done. It should be gratitude that leads you to desire to purge yourself of sin. When we do as we see fit (Judges 17:6), all we bring on ourselves is strife and confusion that leads to endless hurt. When we have purged the sin, and continue to do so as an ongoing venture, we will have no desire to copy the evil ways of the world. Rather, we will desire to be further transformed and renewed by God. We will be new persons, infused by the Spirit, so that all we think and all we do is pointed in His direction and call. Because of this renewal, we will know what He desires for us, what is best, and what is pleasing and perfect.
· Our confession is a starting point to build and develop character, patience, and dependence on God's grace, as Abraham did by faith; we are accountable for our choices.
· When we try to live to and by ourselves without Christ, or even try to serve Him without relying on Him, we are showing an incredible amount of disrespect!
· The goal of confession is to glorify our Lord, heal hurts, and resolve the situation. It is not about us and our burdens. That area is dealt with by prayer, faith development, and counseling if necessary.
What are you going to do about taking responsibility for the conflict?
We need to realize our sinful nature and how much Christ forgave us, less for with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. The implication is that we will be judged by the same standards we use to judge another (John 12:48; 2 Cor. 5:10)!
When we judge by attacking others, or by putting them down, we are refusing to forgive (Mat. 6:14-15)! If you are unwilling to see the faults in yourself and be in the process of resolving them, then you have no right to help others by critiquing them! If you think you have no faults, you are deluding yourself, lying to God and others (Rom. 2:17-24). Thus, there will be no real, effectual way to resolve whatever conflict may be occurring! We have to be humble and accept correction to be used by God (Prov. 15:31).
The right way to help someone with faults is to go to them privately with constructive criticism in love, and offer gentle, humble criticism and help that would lift them up (Matt. 10: 12-15; Acts 13:42-46; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). If we were to remain silent with sin or when people teach false doctrine or behave wrongly, we would allow reproach, that is, false impressions to come upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, causing Him to be misrepresented. And in so doing, the hurt and the problems will continue to escalate and go unresolved. Thus, we need to commit ourselves to Christ, allow for the Spirit's council and examination, and seek His Word then we can progress in healing in our interpersonal relationship ills.
· Remember the need for prayer!
· Remember the need for love!
· Refuse to compare yourself with others!
· Never minimize the offense or someone's feelings; take them seriously as our Lord did, even if you think they is silly. The only thing that is really silly is our pride!
· Be in control of your emotions!
· Respect those in authority and who are seeking to reconcile the situation, such as the mediators, pastors, or elders...
· Treat others as you want to be treated (Matt. 7:12).
· Realize that that healings of hurt take time!
· Acknowledge your role and your wrongs and keep your word (Matt. 5:37; Mark 10:42-45; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:18-25)!
· Realize the validity of the other person's hurt!
· Be willing to accept the consequences of your aberrant behaviors and decisions (Gen. 50:17; Num. 5:5-7; Luke 15:19)!
· Do you try to control the Spirit or does the Spirit control you? Which way do you think pleases God and your attitude will be the proof test of how real and impacting your faith is!
· Keep in mind that it is as impossible to be a Christian hypocrite, just as it is impossible to be half pregnant. Either you are, or you are not. The Fruit will show your true colors.
· A Christian who is critical and condescending is a terrible destructive force to the Kingdom of God, as they exhibit the direct opposite behavior of what a Christian should be.
It is the role of the Holy Spirit to give a critique, and He will work with you way before using you to work with someone else! Every wrong thought you may observe in others already exists in you, and if you are unwilling to deal with it, while pointing it out in others, you would be as Proverbs so eloquently puts it, A FOOL! The chief characteristic of a Christian should be humility as well as love and Fruit! Remember, if God judged you correctly and righteously, you would go straight to Hell, as you deserve neither Grace, nor His love. But, because of His Grace, you have heaven-and Him--for eternity!
May God help keep us all from such judging and enable us to be more useful in helping others with their problems?
Questions and ideas to consider:
1. In Who and what do I trust? What do I fear?
2. Am I willing to confess my sins and wrong-doings in order to improve the relationship and/or solve the conflict? If not, why not?
3. Do you, will you keep your word?
4. Read, Eph. 4:22-32: What am I willing to do to change my wrong behaviors?
5. With what am I preoccupied that gets in the way of resolving this conflict and/or improving this relationship?
6. What do I want to preserve and fight for? Of these, what is glorifying to God? What is not? If it does not help improve the relationship or give glory to God, then you must throw it off!
7. Our responsibility is to grow in our character and not point out faults in others unless it is done as a mentor, and with the disposition of the Fruits of the Spirit. So, what would your proper response be to sizing others up, and finding a balance between not judging, yet protecting your family and the people of God?
8. What are some of the specks and planks that have been in your eye? Do you need eye surgery--faults that need to be corrected?
9. What can you do to have the attitude and mindset of humility, so you can accept correction, and be used by God (Prov. 15:31)?
10. What would be a good way for your church to train and encourage people in the right way to help someone with faults, so it is done privately, with constructive criticism, in love, and with the offer of gentle and humble assessment to help lift them up (Matt. 10: 12-15; Acts 13:42-46; 2 Tim. 2:24-26)?
See more on "The Discipline of Confession" and "The Discipline of Repentance" in our Spiritual Disciplines Channel under Bible Studies. Also, make sure you read the article on "Forgiveness. " All of these are essential!
Scriptures on acknowledging our faith: Lev. 5:5; Ps. 32:5 Matt. 10:32; John 1:20; Acts 24:14; Rom. 14:11; Heb. 11:13; 13:15
Scriptures on accountability: Proverbs 25:12; 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:8-12; Romans 14: 13-23;2 Corinthians 12:19-13:6; Galatians 6:1-6; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 4:9-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; James 5:15-16; Hebrews 3:13
Additional Scriptures on the Disciplines of Confession and Repentance: 2 Chronicles 7:14; 30:6-9; Psalm 34:14,18; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 7:3-8; Matthew 4:17; 6:33; 23:12; John 20:23; Acts 17:30; 20: 17-21; 24:14; Romans 2:4; 3:9-4:8; 2 Corinthians 7:8-12; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 2 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 4:19
© 1989, 1998, 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development http://www.churchleadership.org/