Most people enjoy playing games, especially board games. They’re fun and interactive, but it also allows us to get our competitive juices flowing. With board games, you roll a die, spin something or draw a card, then you move forward, take a risk, cash it all in, etc. Win or lose, when the game is over, the board and all the pieces go back in the box. Many times, though, these board games mirror life.
In the game Battleship, you and your opponent each have five ships, and the objective is to sink all of their ships before they sink yours. You alternate guessing locations on your opponent’s grid until the entire fleet is destroyed—either yours or theirs, first.
Isn’t much of our fighting and conflicts like that? We lob jabs and toss zingers over our relationship walls. We launch bombs at one another. Perhaps we do it to get ahead at work. Or to get back at someone. We want to sink them before they sink us. Meanwhile, nothing has been solved.
Conflict is a part of life. If you live or spend any amount of time with people, you are going to have conflict. Even the 12 apostles—who lived and spent time with Jesus—fought (Matt. 18:1-5, 20:20-24). The question then becomes: How do we work through things in a Christ-like way? Remember, life’s battles are to be solved, not won.
In James 4:1-10, James teaches us not only what causes conflicts and fights, but also how to resolve them. What is the path to peace?
*Take it to God (v. 2b-3): Sounds simple, but that’s what we do. As soon as conflict breaks out, put the brakes on and go to God.
*Check our motives (v. 3): When’s the last time you checked your motives? Is my motive to resolve the conflict, bring love and heal the relationship?
*Stop and listen (v. 4): How many of our conflicts could have been avoided if we had just stopped to listen and objectively evaluate?
*Give grace (v. 6): The person you’re having the conflict with is saved by the same grace, mercy and blood that saves you.
*Submit to God and resist the devil (v. 7): God wonderfully created us, with different personalities, talents and passions. Where it becomes a problem is when we allow those differences to be used by the evil one to create conflict—in our homes, relationships and the church. We love one another and the church that Jesus died for too much to give place to the devil.
*Repent (v. 8-9): When our hearts are broken and we’ve allowed the filth of this world to dominate our lives, it’s not the time to make excuses or laugh it off. It’s a time for gloom and mourning.
*Act with humility (v. 6, 10): Humility is not acting like a doormat, but it’s taking the other person and putting them in a place of honor. It’s having an attitude of giving and serving.
We will have conflict, but we need to be determined that we will do this in a Godly way. Go about this how God wants us to. Live out the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).