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Shifting your Goal

The Bible gives us some helpful insights regarding how to resolve conflicts. Even if we are walking in the Spirit, at times we will quarrel with others. The book of Proverbs has several tips to help us in these situations. In the previous devotional, we learned that we should never use anger to control and manipulate another. If you feel too upset to control your tongue and tone of voice, step away and get alone to pray. Tell the person (adult or child) that you will come back after a little while.

When you are in a conflict with someone, immediately begin to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with patience, gentleness, humility and love.

The whole time I am talking to someone with whom I am upset, I am lifting my heart up in prayer. Do you ever talk to someone while praying at the same time? You can have a “three-way” conversation with another person instead of a “two-way” conversation. I do this when I counsel people as well. As they are speaking, I am “talking” silently in my mind in prayer to God about all they are saying. I am asking Him for wisdom and understanding, patience to listen, and words to say. Try this “three-way” conversation the next time you are in a conflict. With humility, be willing to respond any way the Lord guides you. Ask Him to give you a “gentle answer” instead of a harsh word. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

The Lord may instruct you to not share your opinion at all. The apostle James tells us that we should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). When you are angry with someone, set your heart on asking good questions and listening to understand the person’s thoughts behind their actions, rather than first trying to defend yourself or share your opinions and needs. James goes on to say that “man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires” (James 1:20). In other words, our motivation in every conflict should be to bring about righteousness, not accomplish our personal goals. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it” (James 4:1-2). It is not wrong to feel angry and express it in a controlled way in order to bring understanding and growth in your relationship.

Shifting your goal to be that of understanding the other person and bringing glory to God in your relationship will make a huge difference in how the conflict will play out.
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