We have learned God has entrusted us with life and, as Christ-followers, the gospel and the ministry of reconciliation. He has also given us stewardship in relationships. Think about it, relationships are essential in both life and the gospel. In life, we encounter friends, family, and are given in marriage. The gospel, likewise, consists of relationships. The response of the gospel points to the fact of having a relationship with God and the spread of the gospel involves being in relationship with others and bringing them into that relationship with God. Case in point, we are entrusted with relationships. A church family consists of relationships. Some may not know each other very well while others may only know at face value. Yet, we are together as the body of Christ. With relationships, though, it is no shock differences will arise and conflicts will erupt. It is in the midst of that, we must remember relationships have been entrusted to us by God. Therefore, we must deal with conflicts as God has told us to in His Word. We find such the case in James 4:1-12. We see the source of our conflicts, the solution to our conflicts, and our stance in them. From James 4:1-5, we see the source of the conflict is our own hearts. We want things to be our way. We have desires and want them on our watch. When things do not go our way and when we do not get what we want, we get impatient and anxious. This causes room for conflict to arise. No doubt, we will be sinned against by others, but we must keep in mind that while we cannot control other’s actions, we can control our own with the Spirit’s help. That leads us to the solution in the conflict. James 4:6-10 shows us grace must be central in our relationships. As God has given grace to us in the gospel, we learn to give grace to others in our relationships and conflicts. This requires a heart of humility. This means submitting to God. Pride says you have to always win the argument. Humility says the person is more important than the argument. The virtue of humility is not easy to live out, though. That is why James 4:8 drives home the point to “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Having close fellowship with God and a right heart goes a long way in trying to live out humility. Lastly, we are to deal with conflicts in this way because God is the judge and Lord over all (James 4:11-12). We are not. We obey God; we do not try and play “God”. If we can implement these three things in our relationships, we will be dealing with conflicts in the way God intended for us to.
- How have you dealt with conflicts in the past—are you more concerned about the person or about winning the argument? How does the gospel of grace change the way we act in conflicts?