Learn more about ActiveChristianity, or explore our theme pages for more
The secret to conflict-free relationships
Following these 3 lessons will help you to have good, blessed, healthy relationships!
Relationships can be tricky. People are very different from each other. The way one person thinks can be the complete opposite of how another person processes the world around them. Not to mention that there are also several different styles of communication. God created each of us extremely specifically. And that is very special. We all have gifts and skills that God has given us, and we can appreciate one another for these differing strengths. We also each have areas in our nature where we are naturally weaker, areas where we can develop. In any case, there are many things we learn throughout life through our interactions and relationships with one another.
Lesson #1: I need to focus on “the plank in my own eye”
One lesson that will ensure a strong relationship is that I need to have my own connection with God in life, and focus on myself in the different situations instead of on what other people are doing. Most people are familiar with the verses in Matthew 7:1-2: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” So the question for me is how do I apply this in my own, everyday life?
I know that the way I see things is not necessarily how somebody else might interpret the same situation. And even when communication is good, there is still the potential for misinterpretation and misguided judgments. So when Jesus gave us that commandment, it wasn’t just because judging others in my thoughts leads to all sorts of evil (criticizing, suspicions, backbiting, etc.). It was also because I am not in a position where my own judgment is completely true, excludes nothing, and is perfectly righteous.
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5.
If I focus on myself when I am tempted to judge, then I will find that I have plenty to work on in myself.
In my interactions and relationships with others, God wants to show me things about myself, things that don’t yet completely line up with how it ought to be with me. (James 1:4; 1 Peter 5:10; Philippians 3:12) For example, maybe I have the tendency in my nature to worry about what other people think, so that I spend way too much time worrying about things they said or did to me. God wants me to have perfect joy and peace in my everyday life, and it’s easy to see that worrying like this does not lead to perfect joy and peace. So, God has to show me that tendency through daily-life situations, so that I have the opportunity to cleanse it out – to overcome it.
Like what you’re reading?
Lesson #2: We can be of the same mind, no matter how different we are
Another insight is that Jesus came to “abolish the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:14-18) In the New Testament, it’s written about how the Greeks and the Jews did not see “eye to eye” because they were totally different from one another – they had different customs, cultural traditions, and differing fundamental beliefs. They couldn’t understand each other and they didn’t get along. But Jesus came with the “message of the cross” – which is to overcome theand demands of my own – and changed that.
Read more about the message of the cross here: The message of the cross: practical Christianity
Put simply, the goal is that I only react with goodness, compassion, and love towards the people I come into contact with. In practice, that means I have to overcome my own tendencies that stop me from being able to do that. That could be my selfishness, my own egotism and “hot-headed” opinions, anxiety, impatience, or cowering and being afraid of what people think, etc. So although people can be completely different and conflicts naturally arise, this way of overcoming our lusts and demands can end all that enmity and can make us of one mind. We have one goal – to overcome the tendencies that separate us from God and keep us from being a blessing. (Ephesians 2:22).
Lesson #3: Sometimes I just need to keep my mouth shut
Of course, not everyone believes in the “message of the cross,” and we can sometimes encounter situations where people (whether intentionally or unintentionally) hurt us or are just plain rude. In these situations, it is important to listen carefully to what God is speaking to me. Sometimes I know it is right to speak up and either say what needs to be said, or at least explain my point of view and why I see or understand things differently. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a stand for the truth, and sometimes saying what I think is simply necessary for better communication.
Other times, and many times it can be after I have said “my side” of things, I know very clearly that God is actually speaking to me to “just be quiet now.” Not to be bitter toward, or harshly judge, the person I am having a disagreement with.
When I am interested in overcoming my own tendencies taken them captive in simple faithfulness to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)instead of in wanting the others to change, then I’ll be faithful in the trial not to agree with thoughts of bitterness, harsh thoughts of judgment, or the urge to backbite or tear others down. It means that I focus solely on God’s intention for me in the situation: if I am reacting according to His Word and His Will. The way I react, and the way I take things all comes down to my thoughts and whether I have
A huge part of ourcomes through our relationships, interactions, and communication with other people. While all of this is certainly a learning process, when my desire is to be a follower of Christ, I can press toward that goal. (Philippians 3:12)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.