The school’s email shouldn’t have felt like a declaration of war, but it did.
A string of statements catapulted me into attack mode. All of the ammunition residing inside me recklessly shot out of my mouth as I informed my husband of the assault.
I responded before reflecting.
I condemned rather than finding common ground.
I loathed instead of loving.
Why are these ways in which we react to differing opinions? Why don’t we always live peacefully? Doesn’t Ephesians 6:12 remind us that we aren’t warring flesh and blood, but rather Satan and demons?
Living in peace with others is hard when our enemy wants us to fight for what we believe.
The Devil knows how to sabotage our effectiveness for the cause of Christ by putting a wedge between truth and how we feel. The use of our emotions have to be one of His most powerful weapons of self-destruction.
Our feelings trap us as prisoners of war, especially when it comes to disagreements. I know this from experience, don’t you?
Maybe like me you have felt…
…inadequate when your opinion wasn’t solicited
…threatened by the control of someone else
…frustrated by a decision
…helpless over a situation
…prideful about claiming to know what’s best
These emotions and many more overwhelmed this mom of a difficult child as I read the details about her son’s challenging day and the ramifications of his choices. I disagreed with their approach. (I wanted more encouragement on their part.) I grew angrier with every word I read. (I probably should have practiced more humility!)
My feelings and thoughts imprisoned me, the need to protect against ambush thrummed inside. But was I truly under attack?
What if I created an imaginary war by relying on my feelings rather than focusing on Jesus and God’s truths?
What if you fight against peace when you cling to your opinions?
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
Yet, we fail to do this. We turn our fellow human beings into enemies over misunderstanding and/or topics of debate when we aren’t careful.
Like I had with my son’s school.
Like I’m sure you’ve done in the past when entering conflict.
Living life in peace doesn’t eliminate disagreements, but it should change how we handle disputes.
As servants to a faithful God, we are called to seek wisdom and truth in Him, not in ourselves, and especially not in our emotions. Why? Well, one reason might be that:Emotions chain us to our opinions, preventing us from traveling to the truth.Click To Tweet
Or think about this:
Our self-derived truth convinces us to maintain control. But at what cost?Our attempt at control imprisons us between four walls while relinquishing control to our Maker frees us to a boundless realm of possibilities.Click To Tweet
At the end of the day, isn’t winning an argument about our control? About proving what we think and feel about an issue? Can you see the trouble with this?
Proverbs 28:26 tells us that:
“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”
If our hearts rule the choices that we make then we are fools and doomed to failure. But if we walk wisely, our dependence on God and His truth free us from the personal bondage discord can create.
Peacemaking doesn’t mean we won’t face disputes, but it does mean we look at the outcome differently. When trying to win an argument, we seek to be the sole winner. But peacemaking doesn’t work that way.God calls us to be peacemakers and as such we must enter conflict with the goal of achieving victory for both sides involved in a disagreement.Click To Tweet
Easier said than done, I know. In the coming weeks I’ll be meeting with my son’s school to discuss our varying views and I want to be a peacemaker, not a battle starter. So, I’ve equipped myself with some biblical truths. Maybe they can help you too.
Consider God first before dealing with conflict.
God first. Then others. Myself last. This is a motto in my house. But how often do we skip to ourselves right away? Doesn’t that become our first stop when faced with adversity?
Before you enter into a dispute with someone, you must get God involved. He guides us. He provides the truth. He will deliver us from our own hearts.
Ask yourself these questions before embarking into peacemaking:
Have I prayed to God about the conflict and the person involved in the conflict?
Psalms 109:4 says:
“For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.”
In this verse, David struggled with those lying about him, but his example promotes a biblical practice for us all. Praying for those with whom we disagree.
We should also pray for the conflict itself and God’s will in it. Seek wisdom from God on how He would like you to handle the situation and for guidance of how to end it amicably.
Am I seeing how God might work through this?
Clashing opinions can feel a lot like an attack. But you don’t have to look at friction between people as suffering. James 1:2-4 provides the reason why.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
You see, maybe you have this whole disagreement thing wrong. I did when I first read that email. It felt like a treaty undone by the school. The betrayal pained me to the core.
But then there’s James 1:2-4, and oh how thankful I am for it because it tells me that what looks like suffering really is a blessing. It gives me confidence to believe that trials, such as difficult disputes, shouldn’t push us away from God.Trials should propel us toward Jesus and entice us to be more like Him.Click To Tweet
Recognize that pursuing peace means the conflict resolution likely won’t be what you original thought.
When we disagree with someone, we place our thoughts and feelings above those of another. Kind of human nature. But that doesn’t mean we become a slave to our initial opinion.
That’s why these next two questions are important to ask before you pursue a peaceful end to a debate.
Am I ready to hear/understand a different point of view and find the truth?
Notice I didn’t say accept. Peacemaking doesn’t mean you’ll surrender it all away. But being a peacemaker does require you to show love to another by hearing them out. And sometimes, in listening, your disagreement will transform into a misunderstanding.
Such was the case in Joshua 22. A few of the Israel tribes built an altar that the rest of Israel thought would be used for rebellion against God. Upon seeking the truth, they learned that the altar was for a memorial to God.
Am I willing to trust God with the outcome?
Paul and Barnabas did. When two of the greatest preachers disagreed about their missionary endeavors (Acts 15:36-41), they ended the conflict as peaceably as they could, each “winning” by going their own way.
Paul and Barnabas weren’t happy about this, but they put the future of their missions work in God’s hands. And guess what? God used both teams in amazing ways to do His will. The lesson here:God’s will prevails even when getting your way doesn’t.Click To Tweet
Remember that solving conflict shouldn’t be about you.
It should be about building relationships despite different opinions and striving towards peace. Psalms 34:14 calls us to “seek peace, and pursue it.”
Selfishness and peace do not go together, so always ask yourself about your intentions when giving an opposing point of view.
Am I being selfish?
A good indicator of selfishness is the word I. While reading the school’s email, thoughts like I wouldn’t handle it that way and I want them to do this instead flooded my mind. A whole lot of me swirled around upstairs.
Philippians 2:3 warns us against acting selfishly:
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
This question might be the most important to ask, as most disagreements stem from what we think or feel. By working through our selfishness and applying Philippians 2:3 to the situation, we stand a better chance of pursuing peace in a Godly way.