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Putting Things Back Together (Day 20)

on April 3, 2012

“Work hard at living in peace with others.” ~~ I Peter 3:11, NLT

Another component of fellowship is restoring fractured relationships.  God wants us to mend them together rather than live in conflict and hurt, or discard them altogether.  He desires us to be peacemakers.  The Beatitudes speak eloquently about this important role: “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NLT)  Who doesn’t want to be called a child of God?

Yet, this special title comes with a huge cost.  Peacemakers don’t avoid conflict like many of us do; in fact, they’re known to create it for the good of those involved in it!  When we run away from problems, we act in a spirit of cowardice.  It’s not that we can’t be afraid of conflict; many of us are.  However, we’re empowered to stand up when we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us act accordingly to the suitation at hand.  Peacemakers don’t yearn for peace, they work toward it.

Peacemakers also take a stand on what they believe in.  You’ll never be able to control someone whose mind is set on achieving a peaceful resolve.  Like a bull, there’s no trying to push them over! 

Staying steadfast to the goal of creating peace is important, and there are seven biblical steps to restoring a broken relationship:

  • Pray before talking to the other person – God has an insight that we’ve never considered, and many times will change the course of the situation.  For instance, when we pray honestly about how we feel, He changes our outlook.  Most conflict comes from an unsatisfied need that only He can fill or will use another person to fill.  The Apostle James spoke to this when he said, “What causes fights and quarrels among you?  You want something but don’t get it….you do not have because you don’t ask God.” (James 4:1-2, NIV)
  • Always take the initiative – This is one thing I struggle with.  “Why should I make the first move? ” I ask myself, especially when I think I’m on the right track!  God expects us to make the first move, period.  Delaying  it only makes the situation worse, deepening resentment and causing that wound to set in.  Act quickly.
  • Sympathize with the other person’s feelings – Listen rather than talk.  Give the other person the floor.  Let them speak on how they feel, even if you don’t agree with it.  Put down your guard.
  • Confess your part of the conflict – It takes two to argue, despite what we think.  Look at the flow of the argument or disagreement, and we MUST ask ourselves “What part did I play in this mess?”  Confess, say ‘I’m sorry’, keep the mending going.
  • Attack the problem, not the person –  This is VERY easy to do.  We look at each other’s faults and always ready to blame the other person.  However, isn’t it easier and smarter to handle this in a more peaceful way, like say, with a gentle response?  The Proverbs say, “A gentle reponse defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” (Proverbs 15:1, Msg.)
  • Cooperate as much as possible – This doesn’t mean be a doormat, but rather, compromise and be the help they need.
  • Stress reconciliation rather than resolution – This was a new one for me.  Reconciliation emphasizes the relationship, while resolution focuses on the problem.  In other words, let’s agree to disagree, and do this harmoniously as best we can.  We won’t always see eye-to-eye, and this may take time to get to that eye-to-eye moment.

As I review these points, I can think of a couple of people I need to reconnect with.  Sure, it’s going to take a lot of prayer and effort; yet, the results will outweigh the fear and hesitancy I currently feel.  By taking these first steps, I’ll be called a child of God.

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