It was something said, done, or wasn’t said or done. Now two people who were close friends, brothers and sisters in Christ are alienated, hurt, and apart. Is there any hope for repair? I want to share with you a tract that Jesus wrote, I printed, and some have told me was helpful.
Jesus on Making Peace
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9, NKJV).
The presenter in the first workshop I attended on conflict management said, “Many people are more interested in peacekeeping than in peacemaking.” By peacekeeping he meant trying to get comfortable quickly, trying to please everybody, trying to make everybody happy, appease all criticisms and complaints. In peacemaking, often it has to get worse before it gets better.
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison (Matthew 5:23-25).
Many like to skip this step. If I know I’ve hurt someone or someone thinks I have violated them, I need to go to that person immediately to get the matter resolved. Jesus says reconciliation is more important than worship.
Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother (Matthew 18:15).
When someone sins (misses the mark) against me, I need to address that issue with that person. Notice the number of people in this meeting—2. I can’t obey this instruction of Jesus by having a fit in the foyer. There’re too many people observing and listening. This meeting involves me and one more.
But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:16).
If the small discussion didn’t bring reconciliation, ask for help.
Two ways I’ve approached this.
- There’s been a time or two when I talked to friends, told them how badly I’d been mistreated, and asked them to go with me to visit my adversary to get him straightened out.
- On another occasion, I suggested to someone with whom I had a disagreement, “Why don’t you select a person and I select a person we both trust and see if they can help us. I suggest we not tell our story until our meeting time.”
Which do you think worked better?
Involving other good people can bring a calmness and objectivity that would be difficult for the parties involved. I have trouble listening to someone when I’m thinking of my next response. When people not involved in the conflict are listening without having to respond to every statement, they can listen, take notes, and suggest solutions.
If in these meetings the “one or two more” think I am the instigator or at least a propagator of the problem, I may need to make amends and ask forgiveness before we go to the next step and tell more people.
And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector (Matthew 18:17).
If the meeting of two and the meeting of three or four hasn’t brought reconciliation, involve the larger group.
Read more about telling it to the church: Church Discipline: Tell It to the Church.
You can print the tract on letter-size paper: Jesus on Making Peace.
What suggestions do you have for working with conflict?
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