Over the last 4 weeks at Engage City Church SG we've been looking at Matthew 18 in a series called THE GOOD FIGHT. This has been an amazing series, as we've looked at the ideas of conflict, conversation and reconciliation.
As this series has progressed we spent a lot of time looking at the idea of conflict. In fact, out of the 4 weeks, we spent 2 of those weeks on verses 15, 16 and 17 of Matthew 18, specifically discussing conflict.
Now this happened for three reasons:
1) WE ALL HAVE CONFLICTS IN OUR LIVES
2) WE ALL NEED TO GET BETTER AT HANDLING THEM
3) JESUS GAVE US A SPECIFIC PROCESS TO FOLLOW
Each of this reasons is valid. We deal with conflict every day, we always need to get better, especially at handling conflict, and well... Jesus gave us a pattern to follow, he created a guide for us.
Now, what's really interesting about this is that it gives us insight into ourselves. Are you ready for it? WE LOVE CONFLICT!
Wait ... WHAT!?
You might say to yourself... I don't like conflict, I run from it, I hide from it, I avoid it, I plan my life around it...
You plan your life around it.
Many of us live to avoid conflict, which strongly suggests that we are actually obsessed with conflict itself. We spend some much time contemplating potential conflicts, avoiding conflicts, and then getting ourselves in and out of conflicts that we begin to lose some perspective.
Jesus used exactly 89 words (in the ESV) to talk about conflict, out of an entire chapter. Now these are vitally important words, but at the end of the day, it's still only 89 words over 3 verses.
7 years ago I graduated from Bible College. When I got my degree, my school decided to switch their degrees from a traditional academic style of degree, and go with a more modern, or dare I say "contemporary" design for their printed degrees. (An aside... Contemporary is code in the Christian community for trying to be modern or cool, but by default, it never succeeds and always falls short...)
Now upon receiving my degree I wanted to display it of course. So I set out to the frame store and bought the biggest and most ornate frame I could to display my degree. Amazingly enough, that frame transformed the look of that degree, and actually brought, in my mind, legitimacy and class to my contemporary certificate. Often, what frames our conflict directly impacts how we perceive our conflict.
Jesus framed his teaching on conflict with 14 verses on humility (Matthew 18.1-14) and with 14 verses (Matthew 18.21-35) on Forgiveness. So in effect, when we take a step back Jesus is literally saying:
IF YOU FRAME YOUR WORLD WITH HUMILITY AND FORGIVENESS IT IS HOW AMAZING HOW THE WAY YOU VIEW CONFLICT BEGINS TO CHANGE
When we start living in an atmosphere of humility and honesty, we must take some risks and expect some dangers. Unless humility and honesty result in forgiveness, relationships cannot be mended and strengthened.
How do you view conflict? Does it drive your life or impact your decisions? Let's make a decision to allow HUMILITY and FORGIVENESS to FRAME our CONFLICT. Let's make a choice every day to look through a lens humility first, being quick to forgive, and watch your perceived conflicts melt away.
This doesn't mean conflict won't happen, and when he does Jesus gave us 89 words, 3 verses, and 3 steps on how to deal with it... but maybe, just maybe... we'd find ourselves using them less if FRAMED OUR LIVES with HUMILITY AND FORGIVENESS
See You in Church,
Wiersbe, Warren W. (2010-01-01). Be Loyal (Matthew): Following the King of Kings (The BE Series Commentary) (p. 164). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.