Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Handle Conflict James 1:19-20"

Conflicts are a part of our life and try as we might we can not avoid them. Conflict can make situations in life very awkward. Many times conflicts spring up and catch us off guard and we end up saying or doing something that we regret later. The word conflict comes from the Latin word confIigere which means "to strike two things together," (example to strike flint and iron to get a fire). The Chinese word for conflict or crises is an amazing example: it consists of 2 symbols - one means danger and the other opportunity. In these two words we learn that in every conflict there are dangers and yet there are opportunities. The question is whether or not we're going to have conflicts, the real question is how do we deal with them when they come? Do we fall into danger or do we look at the as an opportunity to display God's grace and love? Half the battle is have a Biblical plan before they arrive in order not to react to the conflict but to respond in a Christ honor way. Let's look at some practical ways to handle conflicts in our relationships. 

James first reminds us that during conflict with of Christians it is good to remember that we are in the same family! He address them as "my beloved brethren." This reminds us of the time when there was conflict and strife between Abraham's servants and Lot's servants, Abraham's response was not to try to win the conflict but to resolve it! "Abraham said to Lot , Please let there be no strife between you and me....for we are brethren" (Genesis 13:8). Abraham humbled himself and allowed Lot to have the land of his choice and the Lord lifted up Abraham (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5-6). 

The next thing James touches on is that he instructs us to be "swift to hear." We must tune in! When we listen, we encourage the other person to talk. Listening also helps us to understand the other person. Sometimes we don't listen because we're on the defense and we are ready to defend ourselves. We assume we already know what they're going to say and we're thinking about what we're going to say next. But what James is telling us is that we should be quick to listen. How do you do that? How do we listen? I would suggests four things that have been very helpful to me. Listen with our eyes as well as with our ears. This is called listening with observation. We must also try to listen with concentration, focusing on what the person is saying. Then it helps to listen with consideration, thinking about the meaning behind the words without jumping to conclusions. Lastly it helps to listen with clarification, asking questions so that we understand correctly what is being said. 

The third thing that I see James telling us is that we must be "slow to speak" (James 1:19). We are told in Proverbs 10:19 that "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise." Proverbs 17:27 says "He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of calm spirit." Then Proverbs 21:23 reminds us "whoever guards his mouth and tongue keep his soul from trouble." Solomon said "a fools voice is known by many words" (Eccl. 5:3). So much is given to us in Scripture about guarding our tongue and being slow to speak and in time of conflict there is no better time to practice this. We need to tune in and be swift to hear but we also need to tone down and be slow to speak. 

Lastly, James exhorts us to "be slow to wrath" (James 1:19). The Bible doesn't say we should never be angry. It tells us to "be angry and sin not, do not let the sun go down on your wrath" (Eph. 4:26). The Lord Jesus demonstrate what righteous anger looks like (Mark 3:5). Unrighteous anger gives place to the devil, it gives him a foot hold or a beach head to lunch his attacks from in our lives. We must challenge ourselves each time were angry, "am I angry for the right reason. The only right reason is sin, not at the sinner. There is never an excuse for uncontrolled anger. Solomon challenges us when he said, "Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rest in the bossom of fools" (Eccl. 7:9). He tells us in another place that "an angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression" (Prov. 29:22).In Proverbs 16:32 he encourages us to remember, "He who is slow to anger is better than mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. 

So what we can learn from James in these two verse is that when conflict come we must tune in, by being quick to listen, tone down by being slow to speak, and lighten up by being slow to wrath. 

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