Dealing With Conflict
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child and had him stand among them.
~ Matthew 18:1-2
In this moment, the disciples are all about who’s the greatest. Jesus puts a child in their midst and tells them that they must become like children. The point of the child as an illustration is humility (not innocence or faith). The child is not concerned with social status. The point is that Jesus advocates humility. Then, out of such humility will come the childlike trust. It doesn't matter if you are 6 or 60. You only get into heaven one way, by humbling yourself. And all of us are little children of God, and the humility must always be there.
In verse 15 Jesus tells his followers what to do when someone sins against them.
15 And if your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won the brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax-collector.
~ Matthew 18:15-17
Jesus is talking to the disciples. He is talking to the family, the church. Since the church is people, it is natural that there are problems between people. And most problems involving people are the result of one of these 3 things: miscommunication, wounded pride, or spiritual immaturity. The first is hard to prevent totally, the second is easily dealt with, unless you are the proud one, but the latter is both difficult and simple, because it takes time and effort for us to grow up spiritually. God is patient with us, and we should be patient with each other, but we should strive to be growing and maturing. To grow and mature in Christ is a multifaceted task, but a big chunk of it comes in just understanding servant hood and humility.
Look at the first part of verse 15:“If your brother sins against you...” This is important because sometimes we label something as sin when it is actually a preference or a pet peeve or a personality trait or just a personal irritation that bugs us. So when you find yourself in conflict with another believer ask yourself “What sin is being committed and where does the Bible address that sin?” Be specific, and test your answer against scripture. If it passes, Jesus’ model will guide you; if it doesn’t, you have a different problem (notice the emphasis on “you”).
However, if your brother or sister has sinned against you, there are two clear commands: Go and Show. “...go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” Don’t wait for the other person to come to you or you’ll be waiting a long time.
“Working towards reconciliation is always your responsibility.” Whether we’ve sinned against someone (Matthew 5) or we’ve been the one sinned against.
It’s always our duty to go. This first step is to be “between you and him alone.” If some brother or sister has sinned against you, he or she should be the first to know. This is not easy but it is important. Keep the circle small.
Also talking one on one, face to face with an individual minimizes any misunderstandings. Sometimes you’ll discover that you’ve been mistaken. Read Joshua 22 and see what I mean.
So if I have an issue with someone, this passage tells me that I must go quietly. Ephesians 4:26 says that I must do it quickly. And Matthew 7:5 reminds me to do it carefully.
Who do you have to talk to?
~ Pastor Gerry Michalski | Lead Pastor