I stood a short distance away, pretending not to eavesdrop. The neighborhood kids bickered back and forth about whose turn it was to be ‘it’ in the game they were playing. Every ounce of my controlling nature wanted to intervene and solve the problem for them, but I held back.
I wanted them to enjoy playing together, so I waited for them to resolve their differences or declare a truce.
Yet I also knew if they couldn’t come to an agreement soon, I’d have to step in and say something. Call it mom instinct. There are times when I can let the kids work it out themselves, but there are also times to let my voice be heard, loud and clear.
When these conflicts arise with our kids, we can rely on that parental instinct to give us a nudge in the right direction. But what about when we are in conflict with others? How do we know when to speak up, and when to be silent?
Life is full of conflict. Work, family, social media, church.
When conflict arises, we look to Jesus’ example for how to deal with it in a Christ-like way. I know this in my heart, but I still struggle with knowing what to do!
Jesus faced conflict all the time. Sometimes He spoke up, and other times He stayed silent.
“Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?’ But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, ‘I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ Jesus replied, ‘You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Matthew 26:62-64 NLT
In the passage above, Jesus demonstrates both the power of the spoken Word and the power of silence, all in one conversation. He experienced unfathomable battles and through it all He showed grace, uncorrupted by the sin of the flesh.
I don’t know about you, but my sinful flesh can get in the way. Ugh.
We can get so passionate about our beliefs can’t we? We want so much to voice our opinions, that silence is a struggle. But if I’m not careful, the volume of my own voice can mute God’s message.
So what’s the answer? How do I know when to keep silent and when to speak up? Paul gives us hope through these inspired words.
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 14:19 NIV
As I read this verse, a few questions come to mind...
Am I doing what leads to peace?
Am I relying on the leading of the Holy Spirit?
Am I trusting God’s Word in my heart for guidance?
Do my actions point to Him or to me?
The truth is, I can’t give you a fix-all solution for conflict. But I do know this. Using these questions to direct me through a conversation with God about it, I can push my sinful flesh out of the way and trust Him to direct my steps.
And this little sentence helps too.