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When the conflict is my fault, it is my responsibility to make things right

My last year in college, I moved in with 7 other guys in what we called a ministry house.  Our mission was to reach out to international students on our university campus.  The guys who led the house were great and as a young believer I benefitted greatly from this ministry experience with older wiser Christians.  But the house was not only focused on outreach but also growing each guy in their personal walk with the Lord.  That is the only thing that explained why I would move in with 8 guys in a two-bedroom house with one bathroom.

Those were great days and I learned a lot about life and ministry.  I also learned my fair share about conflict resolution.  When people gather conflict is unavoidable.  But conflict resolution is a learned skill.  And if I might be frank this is an essential skill that you use for the whole of your life. That is unless you decide to move away from all contact with other people and grow your own food. And to be honest this is one of my great passions in life.  I really desire to be at peace with others and I have attempted over the years to aggressively reconcile relationships that have gone sour.  Not perfectly mind you, but consistently.  And unfortunately, I have had my share and a lot of practice. 

So back to the house.  I do not remember what the disagreement was, but I had gotten into a scrap with one of my roommates.  And it was my fault.  During my morning devotional I was reading this passage out of the Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5:23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

The Lord convicted me (like He continues to do 30 years later) that I needed to take initiative in resolving the conflict.  The closest we get to an altar these days is a church service or a morning devotional.  And that’s what I was convicted about.  Leaving the altar (in this case the old brown couch in our living room) and making things right with my brother.  Let me make a couple of observations from the passage.

  1. At a place of worship– The person in the passage is trying to bring some sort of offering to the Lord.  He/she are attempting to worship the Lord and make things right before Him.
  2. They offended someone– While there the remember that they have offended their brother.  In other words, the conflict is their fault.
  3. Leave the place of worship– They are told to leave the place of worship and go and be reconciled with their offended brother.
  4. Be reconciled.  Which most certainly involves some sort of apology and a request for forgiveness.  The goal is reconciliation.  Meaning that they are at peace again with their brother.
  5. Return to worship.  After reconciliation they are in a position once again to worship.

In the case of race reconciliation that we have been talking about in previous articles.  There would be a lot of empty altars around America if we applied this concept.  We have so many people in conflict with so many others, that you wonder if reconciliation might be a full-time job.

I do love the idea that the goal of the passage is reconciliation with the offended party.  Brothers again.  Peace in the relationship again.  That is a worthy goal.  Paul says in Romans 12:18

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

So back to the house.  As I am sitting there reading my Bible, I realize that I need to make this right.  So, I go and wake up my roommate and apologize for the situation.  I am sure he thought I was crazy but through his sleepy stupor he forgave me, and we were reconciled again.

Some situations are not that easily solved but when it is our fault, we need to take the initiative to resolve the conflict.  Through repentance and humility, we approach the other and ask for forgiveness.  And God willing they will be willing to forgive.  When that happens the reconciliation cycle is complete.  And there is peace again.

Who do you need to reconcile with these days?

When the conflict is my fault, it is my responsibility to make things right

2 comments on “How to Resolve a Conflict- Part 1 of 3

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