Get Along in the Lord

Was that an amazing sermon on Sunday? Pastor Mike preached from Philippians 4: 2-5, and it was such a good word about conflict. If you have not heard the sermon yet, checkout worship for March 13. Your can even get a copy of the sermon and some discussion questions at

Our ability or inability to work towards resolution in conflict has a huge impact on our relationships with others. As a follower of Jesus, we should do everything possible to avoid creating conflict. Conflict is not a fruit of the Spirit! Undoubtably, we will find ourselves in conflicts with people, especially the people we love and care for the most. Jesus actually gives us a step by step guide for handling conflict well. Checkout Matthew 18:15-17.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Step # 1. If you have a conflict with another person, Jesus calls us to address the matter with the other person personally. I think face to face communication is best. When a disagreement is handled privately, misunderstanding can be addressed, and there is great potential for the other person to respond positively. Plus, a private conversation helps to avoid the problem of gossip that can occur when a matter is taken to others instead of the person involved. The vast majority of conflicts could be resolved if we will do this first step.

Step # 2. If a private conversation does not solve the issue, we are instructed by Jesus to take one or two other believers and meet with the person with whom there is conflict. The idea “that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” refers to the Old Testament law that required a charge to be supported by two or more witnesses to be valid. In the case of personal conflict, this principle allows for additional witnesses to observe the situation firsthand and help determine the proper course of action. If we would commit to these two steps, I believe about 98% of all conflicts within any local church would be resolved.

When there is no resolution after steps one and two, the matter is to be taken before the local church. Only in rare cases will a Christian seeking to follow Jesus refuse to resolve conflict when the entire congregation is involved.

Finally, if the person in the center of the conflict refuses to respond positively even when the entire congregation is involved, then that person is to be considered as “a pagan or a tax collector.” This simply means to excommunicate the person, removing the negative influence from the congregation. This sounds super harsh, because Jesus is very serious about resolving conflict. It would seem impossible for the person in the center of the conflict to be emotionally healthy in any Christian community at that point. Praying that no one’s heart and mind would ever be that closed off to resolving a conflict.

We are called to handle disputes in love and to set a goal of restoration. The steps are simple, but they are hard to do. Don’t be afraid of addressing conflict in a one on one conversation first. Unresolved conflict is absolute poison for your soul.

In His Grip,
Mike Toluba

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