Conflicts in relationships are unavoidable. Even if we go out of our way to ensure that we stay on good terms with others, their reactions may not be reciprocal.
While there are things that we can do to reduce conflict in our personal and professional relationships – choosing our words carefully when discussing a sensitive subject, acting out of love, not holding past mistakes against one another – there will inevitably be occasions when we are involved in some form of verbal disagreement.
Although we can't avoid conflict, we can prepare ourselves for them. And this does not mean keeping a mental note of each person's failures or storing up some sharp one-liners. Because we can all end up saying things we don't mean or later regret in the heat of the moment, thinking about how to deal with conflict generally beforehand can be a huge help.
It may be an argument with a friend, a disagreement with a family member of a heated discussion with a husband or wife that has made it difficult for you to keep your cool. Whatever the situation, the Bible can be your guide to conflict management and resolution.
Here are four biblical tips with supporting verses to help you keep calm in a conflict.
Discuss the matter first in private
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."
Watch what you say and how you say it
Colossians 4:6 – "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
Proverbs 21:33 – "Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity."
Proverbs 15:18 – "A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel."
Be quick to resolve
Ephesians 4:26 – "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."
Matthew 5:25-26 – "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."
Proverbs 17:14 – "Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out."
Follow Jesus and forgive
Ephesians 4:31-32 – "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Colossians 3:13 – "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."