In part two of this series, I gave 5 reasons we need to rid conflict from among ourselves. Today I want to give you 8 ways to rid conflict from among us.
8 Ways to Rid Conflict from Among Us
Here is where the gospel comes to bare on our everyday lives. Up to this point in our letter, Paul has been explaining and expanding on the gospel. So let’s take some of what Paul has taught us in Philippians and apply it to this situation because that is exactly what Paul wants the Philippians to do.
In Chapter 2 Paul gives us the means by which we can be unified with one another. There he grounds his exhortation in the example of Christ, and in verses 5-11, he essentially gives us a gospel outline. Let’s look at the gospel outline before we dive into the 8 ways to rid conflict from among us.
The Gospel Outline:
INCARNATION - Jesus left heaven, came to earth, where He was a servant and lived a perfect life as a man. The king took up residence with those in His kingdom.
THE CROSS - But not only did the king take up residence with the people in His kingdom. He also went to the cross for them. So we have the second part of our gospel outline, which is: Jesus’ death on the cross
THE RESURRECTION/EXALTATION/REIGN - But things did not end there. Jesus was resurrected after three days, after which He was exalted by the Father to reign over His people. So we have the third component to our gospel outline: Jesus’ resurrection, exaltation, and reign.
As we look at this outline, and the text there in chapter 2 we learn a number of things about how to handle conflict and be unified with one another:
(1) We are to humbly count others to be more significant than ourselves
Jesus counted us to be more significant than Himself. So much so that He left His heavenly abode, took up the body of a man with all its sufferings, hardships, diseases, heartaches, and death. Then He willingly went to the cross to pay the price for mankind’s sins when He could have skipped out on it. But you remember what He said to the Father in the garden,
“Not my will, but yours.”
And with that, He subjected Himself to beatings, ridicule, and death.
So then, because Jesus counted others to be more significant than Himself. We are to do the same. When we do, we remind ourselves that everything is not about us, which is often why there is conflict in the first place. You see, counting others more significant than ourselves kills our pride and shows us that others do matter.
(2) We are to do nothing from selfish-ambition
Jesus’ ambitions were not for Himself. He went to the cross for us. He told His disciples that the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve. We too are to be about the business of serving others, which means everything we do should not be for our own benefit.
Selflessness is important to practice because conflict occurs or continues when we seek our own benefit.
Occurs – It occurs because we want things our way. When someone hinders us from getting our own way, we feel offended and conflict ensues.
Continues – Conflict continues because we are not willing to concede our desires and wants. As well as it continues when we are not willing to confront the person who has offended us because we don’t like how uncomfortable it makes us.
When we do those things, we are allowing our own selfishness to take over. But that is not what the gospel models for us. Jesus died to Himself, so that we might live. We are to do the same. We are to die to our own wants and desires and feelings of uncomfortableness.
So, if we want to rid conflict from among ourselves, we have to kill our selfishness.
(3) We are to be humble not seeking to puff ourselves up
The gospel should humble us. Especially, when we think about salvation, because we did not save ourselves. When we are humble, we can admit our wrong, because we are not worried about our pride or our appearance.
Because we know that we are saved through the gospel and not through our own self-righteousness. We know that we are accepted in Jesus as sinners through faith alone. As sinners, we can admit our wrong. We can admit we have sinned against another and ask for forgiveness.
(4) We are to look out for the interests of others
Jesus looked out for our interests when He went to the cross to pay the price for our sins. He was not thinking about Himself. Rather, He was thinking about others and how He could benefit them. We are to do the same.
However, when there is conflict, we are not looking out for the interest of the other party we are in conflict with, nor are we looking out for the interest of those who need the gospel. We are only thinking of our own interests.
When conflict occurs or continues because we are only thinking of our own interests, accountability and growth in the church body will decrease, and we end up being a hindrance to the spread of the gospel.
All this means that if we want to remove conflict from among us, we must look out for the interests of others.
(5) We are to keep our gaze on heavenly things, not earthly things
In Philippians 2:10-11, Paul tells us that one day every knee will bow to Jesus when He returns. As well in Philippians 3:20 he tells us that our citizenship is in heaven and we are to focus on that citizenship.
When our focus is on heavenly things, we see this world for what it really is:
(1) Sinful - By realizing this world is sinful, we know that others will sin against us. This knowledge doesn’t make their sin any less hurtful, but it does mean that we don’t expect perfection. And when others do sin against us, we can forgive them knowing that they are not perfect just like we are not perfect.
(2) Temporary - By realizing this world is temporary, we know that a greater hope awaits in the future – a life everlasting. Those things that we put all our hope in on this earth are revealed for what they really are – temporary! So why argue and fight over temporary things? Our citizenship is in heaven. Our hope is there.
(6) We are to pray for one another
Paul is always praying for the Philippians. He opens his letter with a prayer for them. He tells them that he prays for them every time he remembers them.
We should use Paul’s example of prayer as a model. When conflict arises, we are to pray for the other person and ourselves. We are to pray that God would reveal our sins to us, and that God would reveal their sins to them.
(7) We are to include a third-party to help us mediate the conflict
In verse 3, Paul tells another person in the church, presumable an elder, to assist in the matter. This is important because when it comes to conflict, we often think that we are right and the other person is wrong. We don’t see our fault. We only see theirs. So we need a third party to help mediate the conflict, further the conversation, as well as provide scriptural counsel.
(8) Lastly, we are to preach the gospel to ourselves
By reminding ourselves of the gospel:
- We remind ourselves of numbers 1-6.
- We remind ourselves of Christ’s actions, which we should follow.
- We remind ourselves that this world is not all there is.
- We remind ourselves that God forgave us, so we should forgive others.
Questions for Reflection
- Can you think of another gospel-centered way to deal with conflict?
- Have you experienced conflict in your church? If so, which one of these points relates to your experience?
- How might you counsel someone who is currently dealing with conflict?
A helpful resource to consult would be: Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Conflicts by Robert Jones