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REAL peace: Responses to Conflict

Mike Measley  •  EFBC
REAL peace  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:45
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Root of REAL peace

John 14:27 - God wants to give us REAL peace
Genesis 32 - REAL peace and hope stem from:
God is there
God is at work for His glory
God is at work in me

Nature of Conflict

We are in a series looking at REAL peace.
In this world we have conflict, and in our homes we have conflict.
Spark - Diffferences, Mis-communication
Fuel / Gasoline
Anger (Proverbs 15:18)
Greed (Proverbs 28:25)
Gossip (Proverbs 16:28)
Dishonesty (Proverbs 6:12-15)
Selfish desires (James 4:1-3)
Oxygen - Hate (Proverbs 12:10)
Today we are going to look at

Responses to Conflict

The Slippery Slope Diagram from Peacemaker Ministries' Resolving Everyday Conflict material helps to summarize typical responses to conflict.
Escape Responses
Just avoid, flee, don't deal with it, sweep it under the rug
Wrong thinking: Conflict is wrong. People should just agree
Trying to work it out will lead to more conflict
Denial
All good on the surface... but often this is like a dormant volcanoe that is building steam
Flight
Legitimate when just temporarily removing oneself from the situation to collect emotions and thoughts, or to avoid serious threats. Too often it is what Kevin Johnson calls Peacefaking . And, often avoids real growth and healing that God wants to work in me, and others.
Attack Responses
Only interested in winning the conflict
Blaming
Assault
Manipulation, Intimidation
Verbal - sometimes direct verbal assaults, other times veiled (sarcasm) Even though you say you didn't mean it, the damage is done. The assault was effective.
Physical -
Litigation - court of public opinion, and legal court
Attacks all focus on the other person.
Escape Responses are Peacefaking.
Attack Responses are Peacebreaking.
Neither brings REAL peace, nor do they bring reconciliation.
As we saw before, God is the giver of Peace, and His desire is to give us peace. He is at work for His glory, and He is at work in us.
As the giver of Peace, He wants us, his children to be like Him, and be Peacemakers.
Matthew 5:9 NIV84

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

What is a Peacemaker? Someone who makes Peace...
I like the way Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson put it in their book, Resolving Everyday Conflict:
Peacemakers see conflict as an opportunity to solve problems in a way that not only benefits everyone involved but also honors God.
-Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson, Resolving Everyday Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 37.
Peacemaking Responses
While Escape and Attack responses focus on me and you, Peacemaking Responses focus on us.
What are Peacemaking Responses?
God gives us direction in His Word for Peacemaking Responses, which we will be looking at for the next several weeks.
Here are the principles we will be examining:
Go Higher
How can I focus on God in this situation? How can I reach for a higher goal than just self-preservation, or winning the conflict?
Get Real
How can I own my part of the conflict?
Gently Engage
How can I help others own their contribution to this conflict?
Get Together
How can I give forgiveness and help reach a reasonable solution?
We will unpack these principles over the coming weeks. But I want to start into the first one today...
Go Higher
In a conflict, all my attention is on the here, the now, the situation, the conflict at hand.
Where I need to go, where we all need to go is higher.
Flying in plane example. Get above the clouds and can see clearly. Driving through the fog and suddenly it lifts.
Remember, God, who gives peace, is here and is at work. So...
Where is God in this?
What is God doing in this situation?
Big Question: How can I please and honor God in this situation?
Ken Sande who cowrote Resolving Everyday Conflict wrote:
I’m not an easy person to argue with. I often let pride rule my heart. I use my verbal skills to defend myself and make others look wrong. Worse yet, my training as an attorney has equipped me to use leading questions to back people into a corner. No one has suffered more from these skills than my wife, Corlette. One morning she and I got into an argument over some trivial thing. After we traded a few jabs, she retreated to the bathroom to collect her thoughts and pray while I stood in the bedroom, planning like a prosecutor. I was just about to walk into the bathroom to lay out my case against her when the Lord brought a penetrating question to my mind: How could I glorify God in this situation? I pushed the thought aside. I wasn’t the least bit interested in glorifying God at that moment. My only concern was winning my case against my wife! But God pressed in with the same thought, this time in the form of a question I often use when mediating between people: “How could you please and honor God in this situation?” The Holy Spirit took all the wind out of my sails. “Lord,” I confessed, “please forgive my pride and self-righteousness. I know it won’t honor or please you if I use my verbal skills to force Corlette to say I’m right. Please help me to admit where I’ve been wrong.” With a much different attitude, I went to her and said, “Corlette, I was so wrong to get defensive and blame you. Will you please forgive me?” Corlette had been expecting a full-bore attack. Now she was stunned by my words. Her face softened. She relaxed and replied, “No, it was really my fault. I shouldn’t have approached you like that.” Needless to say, the conversation only got better from there, as each of us put God’s glory and the other’s good ahead of proving ourselves right. Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson, Resolving Everyday Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 45–46.
If we take the time to Focus on God, we will find more of the REAL peace He wants to give.
Taking the time to rise above the situation can help us see more clearly, as God would want us to see.
We will begin to see the path to Peacemaking instead of peacefaking or peace breaking.
The first option for Peacemaking we may see is this:
Overlook the offense.
One way to evaluate this option is the following question:
Is this worth fighting for?
Where do we find this option in scripture? Well it is spelled out for us in Proverbs 19:11
Proverbs 19:11 NIV84

A man’s wisdom gives him patience;

it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

If we were wise, we would have patience, and not rush into the flames of conflict.
Not only does God tell us that it is good to overlook--to be patient--God demonstrates this for us.
How often is God patient with us?
Psalm 103:8–10 NIV84

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse,

nor will he harbor his anger forever;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.

And, it is this patience that is what brings us to salvation.
Romans 2:4 NIV84

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

God's kindness and patience is what leads us to repentance.
And even after we are saved, God continues to be patient with us. Lamentations 3:23 tells us God's love and compassion are new every morning! How much do I need His patience, His mercy, His love and compassion each day because I continue to sin?
Since God is so patient with us, He wants us to be like Him, and patient with others!
His Patience brings Him glory. and He tells us that if we are patient, it is to our glory to overlook an offense.
If we do not learn this, it only makes us look foolish...
Proverbs 12:16 NIV84

A fool shows his annoyance at once,

but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

God is trying to warn us that it is foolish to rush into conflict. It is good to overlook things.
Because once you get into a quarrel...
Proverbs 17:14 NIV84

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;

so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

Now, we have already talked about Escape Responses. Isn't this just Escape/Avoidance? Isn't this Peacefaking?
Overlooking is not Avoiding. It is not pretending everything is OK when inside you are seething and bitter, filing it away for future ammunition.
Overlooking is an active choice. You deliberately decide to let it go, not brood over it. You don't talk about it, and you fully forgive. (We will talk about what forgiveness is another week.)
Overlooking does not maintain a high alert status waiting for the next offense.
Overlooking is learning to be like our Father who is merciful, and patient with me.
In fact.
Overlooking is possible only as I Go Higher, and set my mind on how God has been merciful and patient with me.
Wow. God is so patient me. I make mistakes all the time. How much do I offend God with some of the things I say and do. If He is patient with me, I need to be patient and forgiving with <this person>.
Overlooking is the first option for a Peacemaker.
But, when is overlooking the wrong option?
When you relationship is damaged. You cannot truly let it go without working it out.
Other peoplewill be hurt
The offender will be hurt by their actions
God is being dishonored
When these things are true, we must look for other options or paths to Peacemaking.
However, many conflicts in our lives are not going to meet those criteria.
It is for those offenses that we must learn to Go Higher, imitate our Merciful Father, and Overlook the offense.
Overlooking is possible only as I Go Higher, and set my mind on how God has been merciful and patient with me.
When we cannot over look, there are still other paths of Peacemaking. Those other paths are what we will be looking at in the coming weeks.
1. This week, read these verses, and meditate on what Moses, the people of Israel, David, Nehemiah, Joel, Jonah and Nahum all realized about our God. Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3 . How have you seen God’s compassion and mercy toward yo u? Give specific examples.
2. Read Lamentations 3:22-24. Why does Jeremiah say because of the LORD’s great love and compassion we are not consumed? How Holy is God? How deserving of wrath is my every wrong thought, bad attitude, malicious / unkind word, sinful action? How many times have I sinned in thought, word or deed today? Yesterday? Do I deserve to be consumed? As a believer, why have I not ‘fallen asleep’ because of my sin as other believers who sinned in the past have? (Can you think of two passages where it mentions believers dying because of their sin?) Consider, “How important is God’s compassion toward me every morning?”
3. Read Matthew 18:21-35. How important is it that you learn to be merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful?
4. Think of every conflict in your life right now (big or small offenses). If you cannot think of one, than think of a past conflict. Can you learn to show mercy? What would it look like to be merciful in that situation? Read Proverbs 19:11. Can you overlook the offense? Or, is this offense coming between you and the other person in a way that overlooking it would mean your relationship is still damaged? Will this person be hurting other people, or, is this a pattern of sinful offense in their life? Will this be hurting them and their testimony? Will God be dishonored if you overlook it? If you can overlook it, how would that be growing to be more like your Father who is merciful to you, and compassionate every day?
5. Pray to your Father each day, asking Him to make you more merciful, and look for opportunities to show mercy.
6. Share with someone what God is showing you about His great mercy toward you, and how you are to be merciful.
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