Responding to Conflict

Description

Jesus proves we can thrive in the midst of conflict when we choose an attitude of forgiveness.

Matthew 18:21-35

Conflict is a part of life. It may originate from misunderstandings, a difference of opinion, or deep convictions. But that discord often stems from envy, pride, or hunger for power.

We can’t control another person’s response to conflict; we’re accountable only for how we handle it. Many people naturally have unhealthy reactions to disagreement. Some repress any discomfort, ignoring the issue or pretending it doesn’t exist. Others place blame while defending themselves.

These negative responses often indicate one of three underlying scenarios. First, past hurt can leave a person emotionally insecure and unable to handle criticism. Second, perfectionists set such high benchmarks that they can never live up to their own standards—then it’s hard to acknowledge mistakes. Finally, pride makes it hard for some people to admit when they’re wrong or to ask forgiveness.

Unless we respond correctly to conflict, we limit our potential to grow, because we aren’t learning what the Lord is teaching. Also, we develop an unforgiving spirit, which leads to bitterness and resentment. Eventually, such an attitude can destroy relationships.

There is a better way to handle conflict, modeled by our Savior. Luke 23:34 reveals how Jesus responded when He was wrongly accused, unfairly judged, and crucified despite His innocence. Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

How do you deal with accusations and criticism? Forgiveness is the only response that will keep you from becoming a victim of bitterness.

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