How are we to live, serve, fellowship with people who we don’t like, talks behind our back, lies, or does us wrong? How are we to go to church with people we don’t like?First, in times of conflict with others our natural human emotions often try to dictate our behavior. We feel anger and then we want to lash out. We feel fear and want to defend or attack. We feel wronged and want to get revenge. But if we allow our emotions to guide our behavior, inevitably we’ll simply make matters worse. Contrary to that, if we hang onto biblical teaching, we’ll find the power to act rightly even when our feelings try to drag us in the wrong direction.
Matthew 5:38-39(HCSB)38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
Second, in times of conflict we must stand solidly upon Scripture because God’s ways of dealing with conflict are generally very different from the world’s ways. When we’re in the midst of some church battle, we’re tempted to adopt the ways of the world. High on the list among these ways is the desire to win. We can also be tempted to use human schemes to defeat our opponents. We spin like we’re in the middle of a dirty political campaign. We rally the troops. We get out the vote. We defend ourselves. We play the victim. We undermine our opponents. We conveniently ignore facts that don’t support our side. We hold grudges, and so forth and so on. It will feel natural to us to use the world’s ways to win church battles, and, as we do, the world around us will cheer.
Matthew 6:14-15(HCSB)14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing,[i] your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
Ephesians 4:32(HCSB) And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Colossians 3:12-15(HCSB)12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.
But rarely are these the ways of a God who says to us,Isaiah 55:8(HCSB)“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. The world doesn’t have much room for one who tells us to turn the other cheek, who calls us to pray for our enemies, and who urges us to imitate his humble, self-sacrificial servanthood. So we need the Bible to show us different ways to operate in times of conflict: the ways of peace, the ways of the gospel, the ways of Jesus Christ.
Third, in times of conflict among Christians, we need the Bible as the source both of practical guidance (here’s how to act) and of theological insight (here’s how to think about God and the church). The biblical combination of ethics and theology(the study of the nature of God) helps to shape our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Philippians 2:1-4(HCSB)If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
No man is an island ”All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. John Donne
As Christians we cannot exist alone. We are in constant need of contact with other people. In the church, we see this sense of individualism and disconnectedness as well. Many people serially date churches, never staying in one place very long. Some may stake a claim on a church but remain distant and on the outer fringe, attending only when something better isn’t going on. And then there are those who may indeed have a committed relationship with a church but they are not all in. They aren’t fully known by their community. They don’t rely on the Body when they are struggling or in need. Instead, they wear masks that cover the pain of their lives, pretending that everything’s okay, even though it’s not. In order to get along in this world, we must get along with others. Scripture is all about community. God chose the Israelites to be his people. Leviticus 26:12(HCSB)12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people. They lived and worshipped him together in community. Following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, God then instituted the church, the Body of Christ as a community of believers.
1 Corinthians 12:27(HCSB)”Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
Here’s what Paul Tripp says in his book, Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy, “We weren’t created to be independent, autonomous, or self-sufficient. We were made to live in a humble, worshipful, and loving dependency upon God and in a loving and humble interdependency with others. Our lives were designed to be community projects. Yet, the foolishness of sin tells us that we have all that we need within ourselves. So we settle for relationships that never go beneath the casual. We defend ourselves when the people around us point out a weakness or a wrong. We hold our struggles within, not taking advantage of the resources God has given us.” (p. 147)
The truth is, we need each other. We need to trust, rely on, and depend upon other believers. God gave us each other to walk alongside, encourage, and spur one another one in the faith. The writer to the Hebrews says, Hebrews 10:24-25(HCSB)”And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” We are to carry each other’s burdens Galatians 6:2(HCSB)2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ, care for each other’s practical needs Romans 12:13(HCSB)13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality, warn each other of sin
1 Thessalonians 5:14(HCSB)14 And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. and rejoice and mourn with each other Romans 12:15(HCSB)15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
As Christians, our main purpose should be to bring more souls to Christ
How can we accomplish this mission if we don’t get along with people?
Can we win souls if those who see us find out the brethren cannot get along with themselves?
There are rare times when someone needs to be awaken from their complacency, Disagreements and misunderstandings will happen in life, but this is not an excuse to disrespect others. But now in this easily offended world we live in, Christians get the award for the most easily offended people on the planet. The Bible tells us that we should speak to others with love, even if we have to deal strongly with them.But when we have to speak strongly to them, they cry and say your man, or you should talk to me more nicely, never-ending the fact that they are probably in need of awakening or correction. Love and respect should be our guide but Our speech should be kind but firm when necessary.
Ephesians 4:15(HCSB)15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.
Proverbs 15:1(HCSB)A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.
Matthew 5:13-16(HCSB) “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Colossians 4:6(HCSB)6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Seasoned with salt, what is salt? it is salty. Too much salt will make something taste awful, too little will not bring out the flavor, but just enough saltiness will make someone thirsty.
There is a distinct pattern given in Matthew 18 for dealing with a problem. I believe this is primarily talking about dealing with problems among believers, but it can be applied in many situations. First you go privately to the one with whom the problem is. Secondly, you take a couple of people with you so that you can establish the facts and that it is no longer a “he said, she said” argument. Finally, if you cannot resolve the issue then bring it to the attention of the authorities. Again, these verses are talking about the authority of the church, but it could also be applied to your office situation.
Matthew 18:15-17(HCSB)15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. 17 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.
Now that does not speak of Church discipline. The book of 1 Corinthians is a book of conflict. Paul was having to deal with problems in the church. But he starts the book by saying he is praying for them. He certainly gave them the correction they needed. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13(HCSB)9 I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 10 I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. 11 But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. 12 For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? 13 But God judges outsiders. Put away the evil person from among yourselves.
Before we can effectively deal with the problems in others, we must take care of ourselves. Matthew 7 gives an illustration that may seem silly, but it talks about human nature. The idea is that someone with a large piece of wood sticking out of their eye is criticizing another person who has a speck of dust in theirs. The one with the large piece of wood tries to ignore their own problem while dealing with the problems of others. Don’t be that person. Go to God and deal with your own faults before you try to correct others.
Matthew 7:3-5(HCSB)3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
You are accountable to God for your own actions. You cannot control what the other person does, but you can control how you respond. They too will be accountable for their actions, but not to you. They are accountable to God. God will hold you responsible for the way you act towards them. Paul admonishes us in Romans to realize that we are individually responsible for our actions and to not intentionally cause others to stumble and fall before the Lord.
Romans 14:12-23(HCSB)12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.13 Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. 14 (I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. Still, to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean.) 15 For if your brother is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy that one Christ died for by what you eat. 16 Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men.19 So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. 20 Do not tear down God’s work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong for a man to cause stumbling by what he eats. 21 It is a noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble. 22 Do you have a conviction? Keep it to yourself before God. The man who does not condemn himself by what he approves is blessed. 23 But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from a conviction, and everything that is not from a conviction is sin.
Matthew 5:44-45(HCSB)44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Maybe the best way to sum this all up is to deal with people in love. Love the unsaved in such a way that they will want to know more about your God. Love them so that their arguments will melt away. Love your Christian brother in a manner that will help him see how petty his arguments with you are. Your love may bring conviction to the saved or unsaved to help them turn to God for forgiveness.
An expert in the law tried to test the Lord Jesus by asking Him to declare what was the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses. In one masterful statement, Jesus condensed the entire law that God had given Moses: Matthew 22:37–40(HCSB)37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Notice that loving our neighbor would include sharing with the poor and the alien(illegal or legal & refugee); compassion and absolute honesty and justice in our relationships with others; impartiality; a refusal to be a party to gossip or slander; an absence of malice toward anyone and a refusal to bear a grudge; taking care never to put another’s life at risk and never taking private vengeance upon another. It is also interesting to note that when we have an issue with anyone, we should strive to make it right by going to him or her directly. James calls this the “royal law” James 2:8(HCSB)8 Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. Our Lord taught that we should do to others as we would have them do to us Matthew 7:12(HCSB)12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.
It is a fact that anyone who does not have a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ will die in his sins and face eternity in hell. Therefore, we owe it to our neighbors to lovingly share with them the good news of the gospel. True believers have been forgiven, possess eternal life, and have blessings forever as the result of others who have shared the gospel with them. God’s love is evidenced in us as we communicate this precious gospel and love others as we have been loved.