Guest Blog by Ash Narayan, Author of Loving Through Conflict
God has graciously provided us with great wisdom that will both allow our relationships to flourish and build durability to withstand potential conflicts. Several key fundamental principles taught and modeled by Jesus are critical to healthy relationships. Through Jesus’s guidance, these relationship disciplines provide us with excellent examples and essential skills to help us improve our relationships with Him and each other.
Communicating well is one of the most essential skills in life. God created communication and gave extraordinary powers to words and language. Jesus communicated with grace and compassion but also with conviction and belief. The apostle Paul’s instruction on communication says, “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down or cut them out” (Col. 4:6 MSG). Words that come out of our mouths have their sources in the thoughts of our hearts. When our heart is properly focused on the Lord, in fellowship with the Father, and being led by the Spirit, our words will be gracious (always in truth), uplifting, and helpful.
When we communicate well, we grow and strengthen the underlying relationship. Effective listening is a critical component of communication. It is important to not only hear what the other person has to say but also listen to the emphasis and understand the meaning and emotions behind the words being conveyed. Hearing is a function of the ear; listening is a function of the heart. Remember, we all have a strong need for community and belonging. Effective communication is not just about speaking and listening; it is about connecting at a deeper level with another human being.
God made honesty one of His commandments: “You shall not give false testimony of your neighbor” (Exod. 20:16 NIV). Honesty is more than just being truthful; it is about moral character. Honesty is a direct reflection of your inner character. Your actions are a reflection of your faith, and reflecting the truth in your actions is part of being a good witness.
Honesty is mandatory for a healthy relationship. Honesty allows for full and complete discussions and growth in the relationship. Honesty is about sharing the truth in a way that the other person will hear and benefit from it. Honesty needs to be tender. Truth and love are fused together. To have the kind of deep intimate relationships we desire, relationships that can endure periodic conflicts, honesty must become a way of life and not just a behavior.
Loving Through Conflict
By Ash Narayan
Politics, social justice, the COVID-19 pandemic, church ministry, and marriages are just a small sample of the myriad of issues causing division across the world today. Never before are Christians more divided on these issues and others. In addition, an emerging trend that has created tension and division among Christians is centered on ideology. Christianity’s fundamental beliefs and truths are no longer commonly accepted. Movements such as social justice and moral relativism dominate academia and the teaching and culture of the younger generation. These progressive movements are the cause of substantial conflict among Christians who steadfastly proclaim their love for the same God. While conflicts are inevitable and have existed since the Fall, what is troubling is how Christians are managing conflicts.
Conflicts, if left unresolved, rob us of the joy that healthy relationships bring. While conflict resolution is a laudable goal, many conflicts will be left unresolved. Accordingly, we need to address a different reality. As Christians, we need to learn to live well with each other in and through our conflicts. Jesus modeled essential principles such as compassion, kindness, empathy, humility, gentleness, and patience, all of which help us face conflict.
More importantly, Jesus is the conduit of God’s overflowing love. Love is relationship glue. When Christians love each other well with commitment and perseverance, they can avoid many of the conflicts illustrated. When any relationship experiences conflict, love can preserve, redefine, and strengthen the relationship, even if the underlying issue that caused the conflict is not resolved. God is all about relationships and wants to teach you how to be Loving Through Conflict.
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