Resolving Conflict

Euodius and Syntyche I beg you by name to make up your differences as Christians should! And, my true fellow-worker help these women. They both worked hard with me for the Gospel, as did Clement and all my other fellow-workers whose names are in the book of life Philippians 4:2-3 (JB Phillips)

grandkids_crop Anyone who has struggled to be a better parent knows that not every day is all hugs and kisses. Maybe life would be boring if it was! The definition of parenting is nothing if it is not conflict resolution. Paul takes a moment in his letter to the Philippian to focus on two people who he loved but who were butting heads in the church.

First Paul steps in and rather than choosing sides he does what any good coach would do in the heat of the game. He calls for a time-out! Sometimes the best thing we can do in working through conflicts is to put the “I”m right – he (she) is wrong” attitude on hold and just take a time out. Sit down on the bench for a minute a day or a week and let everyone’s tempers cool down.

Secondly Paul points out the good in both of the warring parties. They had both worked with him in building the church in their city. They had given themselves to the same goal and put in time and effort for the sake of the gospel. Maybe the first thing we can do after cooling our jets is to take another look at the other person and remember back to when we once worked together for something good. Once when I was breaking up a fight between our boys I had them sit down on their beds until they could tell me a list of three good things about their brother. You should have seen the look on their faces! You would have thought I had sentenced them to a year of hard labor! But remembering the good is the first step back to peace in a home.

Last Paul moves the focus from the past to the future. He reminds them that the most important thing of all will come on that blessed day when their names are read out from the book of life. Our life is a story that has its conclusion on the day when we enter into eternity. The importance of who gets their own way today will suddenly seem small when placed alongside of the view from heaven. The very one we may be at odds with today will be the person with whom we are to share eternity.

In less than two weeks it will be Easter Sunday, That is the day when the greatest conflict of all was resolved. Three days after His terrible suffering on the cross, Jesus was resurrected and came to show the scars in His hands. There written in His own book of life were the marks of a love that restored us to God and offered us a path we could walk on together forever!

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