15:2 “Does a wise man answer with blustery knowledge, or fill his belly with the east wind? 3 Does he argue with useless talk, with words that have no value in them? 4 But you even break off piety, and hinder meditation before God. 5 Your sin inspires your mouth; you choose the language of the crafty. 6 Your own mouth condemns you, not I; your own lips testify against you. 7 “Were you the first man ever born? Were you brought forth before the hills? 8 Do you listen in on God’s secret council? Do you limit wisdom to yourself? 9 What do you know that we don’t know? What do you understand that we don’t understand?
16:2 “I have heard many things like these before. What miserable comforters are you all! 3 Will there be an end to your windy words? Or what provokes you that you answer? 4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could pile up words against you and I could shake my head at you. 5 But I would strengthen you with my words; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
“Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? 2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.”
Assumptions. Pride. Hurt feelings. Control. Put any two people in a room and conflict is inevitable. Sure, some conflicts might be more sparky, and depending on whether or not you have a fighter or a flighter, the duration and intensity can vary. Add to that the past baggage each one brings into the fray, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a good old fashioned quarrel.
I do not think many people truly enjoy conflict – so why do we do it? It is one of those necessary components of life and can actually be a very healthy thing if we do not permit bitterness, envy or vengeance to cloud our view. At the root of every disagreement is a desire to be understood. We want to be known and cared for – even when we do not see eye to eye. We want people to believe the best in us – even when perhaps that assessment is not accurate.
In humility, we are all flesh and even when we think we are right, we are wrong. Wrong for wanting to be proved right, perhaps, or wrong for not caring for our brother or sister in Christ. A constructive discussion should always contain the elements of respect, kindness and consideration. When voices are raised, chances of being understood are vanishing quickly. Laying down our agenda and seeking to understand is a beautiful Christ-like response when engaged in difficult conversations and can end up turning the argument into a beautiful expression of love and caring for souls. Asking questions and refusing to pass judgment is essential.
What is our goal? Evaluating our motives can help us to stay on track. Why is it so important to us that we win an argument? What are we trying to achieve? Redemption? Or having our way? Frustration is a pretty good indicator of pushiness and not entrusting the process and other person’s heart to God. Judgment and guilt trips are an indicator of someone trying to control or manipulate. Seeking to understand why someone is hurt, however, is beautiful.
How about laying all techniques in arguing down and praying first? Sometimes both parties need to take a reprieve and realize they are a team. Working on a solution together and hearing every argument as valid will help bring the quarrel to a healthy resolution. Ultimately, His glory should be our highest goal and cherishing one another and putting each other above our own needs is honoring to God and all parties. Just as Christ served as an intermediary when we were at odds with God, sometimes we might need someone to help guide our conflicts, too, if no solution seems possible. May we endeavor to love one another and give to Christ our deepest need to be known and accepted.
Lord, we want to honor you in every aspect of our lives. In struggles and hurt, disagreements and pain. Help us to die to self and to glorify You by our unity.