The Secret to Conquering Conflict!
by Harold and Bette Gillogly
Conflict is exhausting! It’s depressing! It’s a joy-stealer! So, do you want to conquer it? How badly?
The Bible has the secret to conquering conflict, but it’s going to cost you. The real question is: are you willing to pay the price to conquer conflict in your marriage? If you are, read on.
1 Peter 3:8 sums it up. If you obey this ONE verse, you can conquer conflict in any relationship! Finally, all of you, be like-minded, sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (NIV)
Let’s unpack this verse a little bit. The first thing you have to do is to choose to be like-minded. But what if you disagree about something? Your son does not want to try out for any sports team at school. Suppose one of you wants to let him do what he wants but the other thinks he should play some sport because it will build character. How can you become like-minded about that? First, you must realize the decision does not have to be made today. Then pray about this together. This could affect your son his whole life, so you had better consult the God Who can see your son’s whole life right now. You should also ask some older, godly couples what they did with their children and how it turned out. The point is, you can find the solution as a team – a like-minded – team, instead of holding on to your own opinion and refusing to budge. Being like-minded in this means you both want what is best for your son and you are willing to work toward the solution together.
The second action verse 8 says we must do is be sympathetic = empathetic. Loosen your grip on your own opinions and wants long enough to try to understand your spouse’s point of view. We could use the same example as in the paragraph above. Maybe you didn’t play any sports in school and did just fine without them. But your spouse did, and he/she felt they made a positive difference in their character. If both of you tried to understand where the other was coming from, it would be a lot easier to be like-minded, wouldn’t it? Empathy is one of those major heart attitudes that measure the happiness quotient in a marriage. If you aren’t much of an empathizer, choose to nurture the habit of empathy. Your life will be far happier for it and so will your marriage.
The next action is to love one another. The Apostle Peter isn’t talking about a warm, fuzzy feeling. He’s talking about 1 Corinthians 13 and every one of the descriptions of love in the chapter: Love is patient. Love is kind. Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. And on and on. That’s the kind of love Peter is talking about. And every one of those descriptions is a choice! Not a feeling! What if you took only one of those descriptions – kindness. How would always trying to be kind to your spouse make your marriage happier?
The next action verse 8 says we must choose is to be compassionate and humble. “Compassionate” is one of those words that is so full of meaning that it is hard to define. It literally means “to suffer in your most inward part with another’s suffering.” It’s allowing someone else’s heart to reach deep within you and transfer their suffering to your very own heart. Sometimes we have more compassion for the faces we don’t know on TV than we do for our own spouse or children. Our expectations often outweigh our compassion for the people closest to us. But your mate and children need your compassion far more than those anonymous faces on TV.
Don’t forget the other word used with compassionate – to be humble. This just might be the most important word of the five. Hmmm. Can you use humble and important in the same thought? At any rate, to be humble is the last word mentioned, but it really has to come first. Don’t know about you but for us, if we are not humble, we cannot be like-minded, sympathetic, loving or compassionate. Without humility, we are each too stuck on ourselves to be any of those things.
Humility literally means to make a big, majestic mountain into a low valley = to make low. We choose to make ourselves of low degree. A valley instead of a mountain. To be humble is to give up my wants, my desires, even what I think I deserve for the sake of another. We don’t think this is possible outside of the Spirit of God’s presence and work in our hearts. What do you think? When is the last time you “made yourself a valley” so that you could “make your spouse a mountain”? Only God’s Holy Spirit can help us obey Philippians 2, and actually have the same attitude that Jesus Christ had….he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave…. (Philippians 2:5,7 NLT).
Well, there you have it. Five not-so-simple words that together are the secret to conquering conflict in any relationship. Husbands and wives, this could revolutionize your whole marriage if you would choose to obey this one verse – 1 Peter 3:8. But, like we said, each one of these actions will cost you. But the pay-off is BIG and so worth it! It’s your choice.