Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Conflict - A Learning Laboratory

In his book entitled Marriage Matters, Winston Smith asks the question “How would your attitude toward conflict change if you truly believed that it was something used by God to help you?”

It is important to start with the premise from the book of James, chapter 4, verses1and 2 which say that “conflicts arise out of desires that battle within us, we want something and we don’t get it.” Conflicts most often arise because the “kingdom of me” wants its own way, so much for loving my neighbor (or my wife) as I love myself.

God wants us to become aware of our self-centeredness and to do something about it. So in an attempt to figure out how we are contributing to the conflict it is important to ask ourselves “What do I want?” Do I want to feel superior, to feel justified, or to just win the argument?

God’s love is about seeking what is best for the other, not about getting what we want. To the extent that our desire has driven our words and actions more than our love for God or our spouse, we have sinned against them both.

There are times when confrontation is necessary. From the Peacemakers organization we learn that we should confront someone when (1) what they are doing will negatively affect their relationship with God, (2) or it will negatively affect their relationship with us or with another, and/ or (3) what they are doing will cause the person harm.

It is never permissible to seek revenge by confronting, nor should we avoid confrontation because it makes us uncomfortable. Again it is important to remember that God uses confrontation to help us grow spiritually.

Let’s assume for the moment that God has allowed a disagreement to surface in your marriage. Let’s also assume that this means that you and your spouse are separated by the issue at hand, i.e. the issue is between you and your spouse, with you on one side and s/he on the other. What if, before you started to argue, you were to ask yourself “What is God trying to teach me?”
Winston Smith

In addition what if the two of you were, psychologically speaking, to stand on the same side, opposite the issue instead of opposite one another? What if you sought to better understand your spouse’s perspective on the issue instead of trying to prove you are right? What if God uses your different perspectives on life to help each of you grow and mature in your Christian walk? Seek an alternative solution that will first of all honor God and secondly take into account each of your personal concerns.

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