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.
If we are reluctant to address challenging issues or behavior for fear of experiencing pain, the relationship will never flourish. Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” This Scripture exhorts Christians in close relationships to rebuke each other openly and tell each other things they need to hear, even if it is painful. Verse six stresses that anyone afraid to honestly share what needs to be said does not value the relationship.
Many Christians are afraid to be open and transparent, fearing that doing so may cause conflict that will damage the relationship. They choose instead to deny the concern, issue, or behavior they experience with their friend. This results in a relationship that stays at a surface or unhealthy level. They choose to only affirm each other and discuss strengths while never addressing weaknesses. Proverbs 29:5 warns us that “a man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.” Transparency is challenging, but our relationships will grow stronger and deeper, not weaker, when we openly share with each other.
Honest, open, and transparent communication is most effective when we are emotionally connected to the other person. A lack of sensitivity, as illustrated in the following proverb, is not only unloving but will also cause problems when faced with a conflict:
Like the one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. (Prov. 25:20)
Christians in a strong relationship should tie their hearts to one another. A Christian relationship is sensitive to the emotional and spiritual health of the other person, always seeking each other’s well-being and interests (Phil. 2:4). Jesus tied his heart to ours: “In all their distress he too was distressed” (Isa. 63:9) and “My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full.” ((John 15:11). Similarly, when we tie our hearts to one another, this compassion provides relational strength when we face adversity.
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.
I hope today’s blog has encouraged you. Make sure you sign up to receive blogs posted every week. At TransformingFamilies.org, our resources are designed to guide you through the restoration process of developing your heart, mind, and strength, enabling you to become the man or woman God created you to be.
I also provide one-on-one coaching; if you want to improve your relationships, let’s connect through e-mail at ‘email@example.com’. My hope for you is that through these blogs, references, and resources, God will transform you from being bruised or broken to an abundantly blessed child of God.