Communication is an incredible gift. A few years ago I saw video of 4-year old boy, Grayson, who was deaf. Born without an auditory nerve, his life was filled with frustrations and challenges. Doctors performed a revolutionary procedure which led to him being able to hear for the first time. Grayson’s life was radically transformed once he was able to hear and communicate more clearly,
My heart breaks our culture’s general inability to communicate well. Our news and neighborhoods are filled with the resulting frustrations and challenges. Many are “unable” to truly hear what others are trying to communicate. People often gravitate toward one of two extremes in conflict: isolation or violence. Some sulk in the corner. They choose to ignore, or cut others out of their life in various ways. Others don’t escape, they attack through angry verbal, or even physical, outbursts. But it doesn’t have to be that way. What does the Bible say about handling conflict in a healthy way?
First, remember each conflict is an opportunity. Conflict itself is not a bad thing. Sometimes conflict can bring awareness to a problem, opposing sides to a discussion, and result in a healthy solution. Problems usually arise when someone does not handle conflict in the right way.
Second, examine yourself. Jesus made clear the importance of first “getting the log out of your own eye” before seeing clearly enough to help another with the “speck” in their eye (Matthew 7:3-5). If there is a glaring sin, issue, or problem in your own life, take care of that first. Consider how you might have contributed to the conflict. Be prepared to ask for forgiveness if needed, and have an attitude of forgiveness toward others.
Third, listen. James 1:19-20 reminds us to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” We naturally turn that around by being quick to speak, quick to anger, and slow to hear!” How many conflicts could be resolved quickly (or at least more clearly), if we were to take these verses to heart? As Philippians 2:3-11 reveals, like Jesus, we should consider the interests of others. When we listen, we learn.
Last, live at peace whenever possible. Determine whether the issue is really worth fighting over. That does not mean you must agree with everyone all the time about everything. Sometimes an issue is worth “fighting” for, and you are unable to live in perfect harmony. But we should strive for peace and choose to work through differences when possible. Pursue harmony with others and never repay evil with evil, but evil with good, even going out of your way to serve (Romans 12:14-21). In the end we are responsible for our own behavior.
Incredibly, through Christ we have miraculously been given a new heart and ability to handle communication and conflict in a new way. The first words little Grayson heard were, “Daddy loves you!” May our words (and ways) communicate love to others, and not lead to isolation or violence, but to restoration and peace.
Dr. Chris Larmoyeux is the pastor at First Baptist Church Maumelle. He and his wife, Tonya, live in Maumelle with their three children. You can email Chris at email@example.com.