Blessed Are the Peacemakers
by Candy Arrington
Maybe you’ve witnessed two people caught up in this classic yelling match. Disagreements can pop up during school, on sports teams and even at church. Instead of ignoring conflict, God wants us to confront it head on. Arguments that don’t get settled are bad for everyone. If we fail to work things out, it hurts our relationships with others and with God.
Becoming a peacemaker doesn’t mean being wimpy. It takes strength.
Pray. Ask God to give you wisdom and a clear view of what’s causing the conflict. When you have that perspective, it can help you forgive (Proverbs 19:11).
Listen. Sometimes we’re so busy proving our side that we don’t hear. Pay attention and really listen, instead of thinking of what you want to say next. James 1:19 reminds us, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
Talk it out. Don’t tell everyone, but talk about your hurt feelings with a parent or trustworthy adult. If you express your feelings, you’ll have a better chance of staying calm when you talk to the person you’re upset with.
Accept your part. None of us likes to admit we’re wrong. Ask God to help you see your role in the conflict.
Take the first step. If you wait for the other person to take action, the conflict may never be resolved. Many people think taking the first step means admitting they were wrong. God will bless us for trying to make peace.
Be patient. Once you take the first step, don’t expect sudden changes. The other person may never say, “I’m sorry.” Your relationship may take awhile to be restored.
Show respect. Attack the disagreement, but be kind to the person.
Be humble. If you act superior, you probably won’t be able to work though your differences. Titus 3:2 tells us to avoid fighting and show true humility to everyone.
Agree to disagree. Some disagreements can’t be fixed. While you can’t change the other person, you can change your attitude and response. Move forward, and don’t keep talking about what happened.
Forgive. When God forgives, the Bible says He throws our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). That’s a long way! So do the same thing for the person who offended you.
While some actions help resolve conflict, other things can make disagreements worse:
Personality differences. Certain people annoy us. Being around them is like swatting at a fly that won’t stop buzzing around our face. God created different personalities, and that’s good. Otherwise life could be boring. But differences in personalities can lead to disagreements. Realizing this helps us understand people and gives us a chance to change our actions and reactions.
Jealousy. When others have what we want, we sometimes talk about them in a negative way. Like hot coals under a pile of dry leaves, conflict smolders when we let jealousy take over.
Anger. If you swallow anger over something that happened, that anger may come out when you’re not expecting it. And sometimes your anger can be directed at someone who hasn’t done anything to you.
Perfectionism. Expecting yourself or others to be perfect leads to frustration and conflict because we all make mistakes.
Replays. Conflict feeds on reruns of old hurts. When you keep thinking about past conversations or events that upset you, you can’t heal or forgive.
Living at peace with everyone isn’t easy. But these steps can help settle conflicts.
Use a mediator. An adult or wise friend can act as a bridge between you and the person you’re quarreling with. It’s the mediator’s job to not take sides, to keep the conversation on topic and to stop word attacks.
Write a letter, email or text. If you are careful with your words, writing can help calm a conflict. You can also work out your frustrations by writing in a journal. Sometimes the real issues surface when you write.
Think from the opposite point of view. Pretend you are on the other side of the conflict. If you were the other person, what would you want to have happen next?
Memorize Scripture related to forgiveness, peacemaking and resolving anger. Ask God to show you how and when to talk about what’s going on. If your conflict is with family members, bless them with small acts of kindness.
As Christ followers, we should look for ways to make amends. That may mean an apology or even more. In Matthew 5:24 (NIrV), Jesus says, “Leave your gift in front of the altar. First go and make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift.” In other words, if we don’t make up for the hurts we’ve caused, it hinders how we worship Him.
This story originally appeared in Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Find out more about this award-winning children’s magazine by clicking here.