I’m tired of watching conflict destroy families and churches. Satan seems to be carrying out his plans of ‘divide and conquer’ as easily among Christians as in the world. If we want victory, we must recognize where these conflicts come from…
From whence come wars and fighting among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: James 4:1-2
SOURCES of Conflict
James gives us the two most common sources of conflict: unmet CRAVINGS & unyielded CONTROL. These are both rooted in an element of self. These selfish desires (lusts) – when unmet or unyielded – are the seeds of our conflict and division. But, thankfully, James doesn’t just speak of the problem; he also addresses the solution… humility. Humble submission brings more grace.
Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:6-7
STAGES of Conflict
If humility is the answer, then pride must be the problem. Satan knows that pride works because it’s so self-deceptive. You don’t think you’re proud, you just think you’re right! The danger of pride is that we feel justified all the way to our destruction (Prov. 16:18; Oba. 1:3). Pride whispers what we don’t need anyone else (even God) and, without realizing it, we walk headlong into the judgement of God (Dan. 5:20). This is one of two sins that God judges above others (the other, idolatry).
Satan uses anger to invoke your most unhealthy, negative emotions (Prov. 29:22). Anger never comes alone; it always brings more sin. It is a fire that can hardly be quenched. Your amygdala (emotion-center) takes over your frontal lobe (logic-center) and pushes you to make rash decisions. Your adrenaline flows hot and fast requesting a violent release. You only have 3 options: act out and hurt something/someone, hold it in and let the embers burn (which only lasts so long), or to repent and let God put the fire out (Prov. 16:32; 25:28).
Satan has used hurtful, wounding words to do far more damage than blades and bullets have ever done. Your mouth will speak out of the abundance of your heart – that’s why one of the hardest things to do is to hold your tongue. The best way to prevent acidic words is to guard your heart from acidic thoughts.
SOLUTION to Conflict
Instead of letting pride (spirit) cause you to be angry (soul) and cause you to speak hurtful words (body), follow the advice of the Apostle Paul:
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph. 4:23-29
I’m trying to surrender my control and cravings to God. As I resist Satan’s urge to divide and conquer, I realize that will give up trying. This is a constant challenge to me – even with the ones I love most.
What does this look like in your life? Do you struggle with anger or harsh words? How do you find peace in the midst of conflict?