Jesus spoke frankly about conflict. As a man, He felt the angst of family estrangement and the spite of vested interest groups. His teaching on relationships is not merely to help us find “the good life”. From the chaos and fog of fractured relationships, there is a way to hope and life and love: a journey with Jesus Himself.
Read James 4:1-3. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?
1. Describe the way you naturally approach conflict and confrontation. In what ways do you think you can grow and mature in this area of relationships?
2. How did Jesus handle conflict? What characterised His approach to engaging with and confronting people?
3. When you last had an argument, fight, or quarrel, what was at the back of it? What was the source of it? How did you manage the situation?
4. Read Proverbs 18:21. In what ways does the tongue have the power of life and death? Describe a situation where your words caused damage to someone else. What can you learn from that for next time?
5. Practically speaking, in what ways can we invite God into situations where we are experiencing conflict?
6. Read James 4:8-10. Fixing the root cause of conflict on our own is impossible. Discuss how taking steps with God brings hope.
Growth and development happen in our lives when we act on what we’re learning or what the Lord is saying to us. Identify one key idea that has got your attention as you have talked about this area of conflict. Perhaps it’s God drawing your attention to a principle of truth to learn. What’s a concrete step you can take in response?
In His Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Jesus takes the idea of forgiving someone, even if they’ve hurt you deeply, beyond some idea of just condoning what they’ve done, excusing them or tolerating injustice. He cuts right to the heart of the matter and shows us that forgiveness involves letting go of your right to hurt someone back. You let go of your desire to see them hurt. It can take time and it is a process, but as we experience God’s forgiveness ourselves, we find the power to forgive others.
Read Matthew 18:21-35. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?
1. Have you ever received unmerited forgiveness from another person? Share.
2. The parable in Matthew 18 shows how significant our forgiveness by God is, compared to those who we need to forgive. How can we avoid taking God’s forgiveness to us for granted?
3. Authentic forgiveness is never cheap. What can be the ‘cost’ of forgiving another person? What can be the cost of not forgiving?
4. Read Romans 12:17-21. How can we apply these verse in a practical way? Why is this often so hard to do?
5. Full forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean a full reconciliation of a relationship. How do we balance this tension? How do we know that we have genuinely forgiven another person?
6. When we genuinely forgive another, it is God who gets the glory. Discuss.
Set aside some time now for quiet reflection and confession. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what you need to see. Consider using some of the questions that John Wesley used in his practice. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate? Do I pass on to another what was told to me in confidence? Can I be trusted? Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits? When did I last speak to someone about my faith? Do I pray about the money I spend? Do I disobey God in anything? Finish the time together thanking God for His total forgiveness and ask Him to help you live in the power of that this week.
At some point every one of us will have a difference of opinion with another person, and on some occasions this may well escalate into a conflict situation. This can occur with a spouse, a family member, a friend, a work colleague, or even a total stranger. Jesus is not so concerned that such a conflict occurs, but He is more concerned with our response to the situation. The challenge for a disciple of Jesus in a conflict situation is to show the grace of God – regardless of whether we are the offender or the offended.
Read Matthew 5:21-24. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?
1. All conflict needs to have a “use by” date and needs to be resolved in some way. Is this your experience? What are the consequences of leaving conflict unresolved?
2. To deal with conflict we need to first of all examine our own heart attitude. What can cause us to get bitter of heart? What part does humility play in resolving conflict?
3. Read Matthew 5:43-44. How can we genuinely pray for those who persecute us? What might this look like in a practical sense?
4. Conflict resolution can take time, especially when it is a significant offence, but we still need to make peace a priority. How can we do that? What could be a first step in the process?
5. Read Romans 12:17-18. Sometimes we are not able to fully resolve a conflict with another person, but we still need to be able to live at peace and resolve it with ourselves and with God. How can we do this?
6. Read Romans 12:19-21. When we are offended we often want to seek justice. How may these verses help us when we have been treated badly? What can we do at such a time?
At some point we all experience conflict. The challenge is to be able to resolve the conflict in a way that leaves us with a sense of peace and trust in God, even if the outcome is not fair or just. Take a moment now to ask God if there is any conflict in your life that you need to deal with. If it is a situation where you are the offender, ask God for one practical step that you can take towards resolution. If you have been offended, ask God for a way to begin the process to see the conflict resolved in a timely manner.