Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, October twenty-fourth. Conflict is as old as human history, but it's still as difficult to handle today as it ever was. Today you can learn to respond correctly to disagreements in part one of Confronting Conflict. When you're facing conflict, how do you feel? Do you feel insecure?
Maybe sad. You may even feel guilty. But you have these mixed up feelings inside because conflict is never good.
Shall I say, for the most part it's not. It certainly isn't very pleasant when we have conflict with someone else. And so, how do you react? Do you immediately want to blame somebody else? Do you want to take the blame yourself? That is, how do you react when somebody blames you for something? Usually we want to defend ourselves rather quickly.
And oftentimes that is not the right thing to do. And so, when you think about conflict, all of us have it. We have had it. We are having it.
We're going to have it. Because that's the society we live in. It's the life we live around us. And when conflicts come, they come for different reasons. Sometimes it's a purely a misunderstanding.
Sometimes it's rebellion against authority. Sometimes it's conflict because there are personality clashes. Sometimes a person is brought into their, maybe their family or into their marriage, old baggage. Things that they grew up with or things that happened in their past life, maybe it's unforgiveness and anger and bitterness and resentment and hostility toward someone else. They bring it into the marriage and what happens? There's conflict almost immediately. And the person to whom they're married who didn't have that kind of background, who doesn't understand that, suddenly the victim of criticism and conflict and they don't understand why. And so, as you look around you think about where does conflict hurt the most?
Where is it the most painful? Is it not in the marriage? Because it's such an intimate relationship. Somebody says, Well, but on my job, but on your job you can go to work and leave it if it's at home.
Or if it's at work, you can come home and leave it. But somehow if it's in your family, you always have to come back to it at night. If it's with your children or whatever, it's so intimate and so close, that's what makes conflict so painful. The issue is not how do I get rid of it, but how do I respond to it?
Because the way I respond to it is either going to determine whether I grow in the relationship or I do not. Conflict will always be there because it's the society in which we live and we all have that old fallen nature and God is dealing with all of us on some level or the other and we have to face conflict. So, what I want to do in this message, I want to talk about primarily how do we deal with it in the right fashion.
I want us to find out what the source is and I want us to look at several things, but the major issue is this. How do you deal with this so that you don't end up with an unforgiving spirit and hostile and bitter and resentful and affects your health and everything else? Well, I want us to turn to a passage of Scripture in a few moments where two of God's servants, awesome servants of God, had conflict. But before I get to those, I want to tell you about two of God's servants who were awesome preachers, great evangelists, thousands of people being saved by their preaching back in colonial days, John Wesley and George Whitefield. And one day someone, and they were in disagreement about their theology, one day someone asked John Wesley, do you believe that George Whitefield is going to be in heaven? Do you believe you'll see Him in heaven? He said, I do not believe that I will see Him in heaven. He said, you mean to tell me you don't believe He's converted? He said, no, I didn't say I didn't believe He was converted.
I believe He's converted. But He's going to be so close to the throne that I will never see Him because I'll be so far away from it. Now, here are two men who were mighty theological giants and whose preaching was moving the generation in which they lived, the great awakenings that were taking place. And yet, in spite of that, they respected one another and their differences and their conflict did not allow them to be critical of one another. Well, I'll talk about two other fellows, Peter and Paul. And I want you to turn to Galatians chapter two. And I want us to look at this and what I want to do as we read this, I want to give you some background here so you'll understand what's happening because it's very interesting.
We all find ourselves facing conflict of different sorts. So, while you're turning to Galatians two, I want to turn back for a few moments to Acts chapter fifteen, give you a little background. So, you go to Galatians two. What's happening in Acts fifteen here is that there's a council in Jerusalem.
Now, you're talking about prejudice. The Jews, of course, felt like that they were God's chosen race and we don't question that. And now, Paul and Peter, Peter had this vision and Paul converted and God told him to preach to the Gentiles. And so, now in Jerusalem, this big council. Peter's preaching and he's preaching the gospel and talking about the grace of God and how we're saved by faith. Now, a little later on, we come to the book of Galatians here and Paul is speaking to Galatian Christians and he's giving this account. And he said, when they had this meeting in Antioch, Peter was there and he came. And Peter was siding up with these Jews who came down. And there were many Jews who believed that if you were a Gentile and you got converted, you believed in Christ, that in order for you to really be saved, you had to accept the Mosaic law, especially certain things like circumcision and so forth.
And if you didn't do that, then you were not saved, even though you trusted Jesus. They were strong at this, creating great division in the church. So, Peter had defended salvation by faith alone and now he's in Antioch and Paul arrives on the scene and here's what he notices. He notices that Peter has drifted over here and when they had dinners, for example, you know, Jews over here, Gentiles over here, and so that Peter now was over here making himself available to the Jews and ignoring the Gentiles.
So, that's what's happening when we start this passage. So, I want you to see what's going on between the two of them, Galatians chapter two and let's begin in verse eleven. Now, but when Cephas, which is Peter, when Peter came to Antioch, Paul is writing now, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, that is up in Jerusalem, James was sort of a leading fellow in the church, he used to eat with the Gentiles.
But when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. That is, he was, he feared the criticism back in Jerusalem, since he'd been an apostle, of his position now that he was siding with the Gentiles. And so, the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. So, Paul said, But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas, In the presence of all, if you being a Jew, live like the Gentiles, and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
We're Jews by nature, and not sinners from among the Gentiles, Paul speaking of himself and Peter. Nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, that is, keeping the Mosaic law, but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, since by the works of the law no flesh would be justified. Now, one of the most important verses in the Bible that is still a conflict today is that last verse.
And that is when he says, verse sixteen, Nevertheless knowing, a person is not justified, that is, declared righteous, and therefore accepted by God, saved by the works of the law, or by keeping any kind of law of the Mosaic law, or any kind of works. And so, what's at stake here is this. And Paul recognizes this. Paul said, Peter, here's what you said back in Jerusalem. And here's what's going on now. And what he said to him is, you're acting like a hypocrite.
You're practicing hypocrisy because you know what's at stake here. And what was at stake is this. What was at stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because if they began to preach that to be saved, you had to receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior and then accept part of this Mosaic law to make you fully saved. It was a distortion of the truth of the gospel and Paul knew. He could not stand by and watch this happen because of Peter's compromise and fear of his reputation back in Jerusalem. And the apostle Paul, in spite of the fact that this was a group of believers and that he could be misunderstood, he just came straight forward. He said, I could not wait, I could not stand there knowing what was at stake.
Now, watch carefully. We have to always, when there's conflict, ask the question, what is at stake? Because there's no such thing as having conflict wrapped up in yourself, by yourself, without affecting someone else. Now, people can have conflict within themselves, no question about that. But conflict is going to spill over in somebody else's life. And so, Paul took the hard way, but he did it and he did it and thank God he did it because it cleared it up and all through the Scriptures, you and I know that we're justified by faith alone, that is not faith plus works. And everywhere you and I turn today, there is conflict.
Conflict about what people believe and how they handle things and the conflict in the politics of this world. So, we're going to have to face, and the issue is, how do we face it? Now, with Peter and Paul, he made it very clear how he was going to handle it, and that is he was going to confront it right up front.
What I want us to talk about is how to do it in the best way. Now, you say, well, was Paul angry? I don't think he was necessarily angry, but he was pointing out very clearly, you are being hypocritical. Now, I don't know how kindly you can say that to someone, but that's exactly what he said. And he got Peter's attention.
And I'm sure Peter changed and got it straightened out or he would not have said the things that he said later on in his epistles and how God worked in his life. So, let's think, first of all, let's deal with the issue of recognizing the cause. Why do people have conflict? Well, sometimes it's an honest disagreement. Sometimes it is a matter of personalities clashing with each other. Some people just, you know, they're people who work together who just can't get along because it's their personality.
And then, of course, sometimes it's a matter of communication. And haven't you, if you're married especially, I didn't say that. Well, that's what I thought you said. That is what you said. Now, that's not what I said. Here's what I said.
Well, that's not what you meant. In other words, it's easy to get into conversations and our communication and then finally somebody says, well, I know that's what you said, and walks off. And so, what happens? Then you begin to have a big problem. And so, sometime it's a matter of communication. Then, of course, the whole issue of jealousy, sometimes conflict is a result of jealousy. Somebody sees you getting ahead and they think that they should be where you are and the result is you have conflict. Sometimes a person gets angry over something.
Now, watch this. And their anger isn't toward you, but sometimes they're angry with themselves. Sometimes they're angry with God and sometimes they're angry at someone else. But oftentimes when people are angry at God, they can't see Him, so they take it out on someone else. And oftentimes I've met people who were angry at me as a pastor, and the more I listened to them talk, I was able to help them see, you know what, you're not angry at me.
You're angry because your brother was a pastor. And how he got treated and all, and it's amazing how people can just lay it on someone else and cause conflict. It's in marriage among children, for example, in your family, but the family is the worst part of it. And then, of course, people, children rebel against authority.
And what happens? They create conflict in the family. And so, it can come from many, many directions, many reasons.
Sometimes it's because, as we said, people get married and they bring into their marriage baggage that the person they marry had nothing to do with, but it causes conflict unless they're willing to open themselves up and to say, you know, what's going on inside of me? So, there are many reasons, many causes of it. And the issue is you and I are not going to always be able to avoid it. Sometimes they're not going to change.
They're people who absolutely are not going to change no matter what. And so, how do you deal with that? There is a way to deal with it. I'm not going to promise you that if you follow these very, very important suggestions that work, that always that person and you are going to shake hands or hug each other and say, well, I'm sorry, let's be friends forever. No, sometimes somebody's going to walk off and you can't do anything about it.
Watch this carefully. You and I are responsible for our responses in a conflict. We are not responsible for the way other people respond because you and I cannot make someone do what they don't want to do. And I think about so often people live their lives that with hurt and pain and suffering and bitterness and resentment and hostility and anger and poor health because of their unwillingness to deal with the source of whatever's causing their conflict. And you know, there's some people who can't get along with anybody.
I mean, no matter who it is, they just can't get along with people because something's gone inside of them. So, there are lots of reasons. And so, what we want to talk about for a moment now is how these things affect you and me. That is, when people cause conflict, how does it affect us? Well, let's, two words I want you to remember. One of them is the one way people deal with conflict is they suppress it. And to suppress it means I acknowledge that it's there, but I don't want to deal with it.
Now, that's the worst thing that can happen in a marriage. I know it's there. I know I'm wrong, but I'm not going to deal with it. The second word is to repress it.
And that is, I don't even want to acknowledge it's there. The first time you acknowledge it, but you don't deal with it. The second one is you refuse to acknowledge that you even have a problem. How many husbands and wives have said to each other, do you realize we have a problem?
What's the problem? And usually it is, of course, blaming somebody else. So, how we respond makes a difference. And sometimes a person's response is quickly to blame someone else.
And if they can blame someone else, they feel like that takes care of the issue, but it does not. And then, of course, when I think about all of these results in a person's life, if a person is in conflict and does not know how to deal with that, it affects you, your mind. You cannot be living in conflict with someone without having a divided mind, especially if that person is a family member or even someone you work with or maybe even a friend. If you have conflict, it divides your mind. It affects your emotions, especially if you think a lot of that person or maybe you just don't like them. And it certainly is going to affect your relationship to God because you cannot get down on your knees to pray over how you pray, you can't get down on your knees to pray and have fellowship with God and expect Him to answer your prayers when you're having conflict with someone, especially on a spirit of unforgiveness and you're just all torn up about what's happening and you're blaming them.
There is no way. You can get on your knees and say some words, but you're not praying. So, I think about, for example, a person never really discovers who they are themselves. If you don't know how to deal with conflict because we're always going to have it. So, who are you? Are you a person who has the courage to face issues?
Are you so immature or so insecure that you can't face them? You never discover who you are as long as you have conflict and you don't deal with it. Now, most people are living in some kind of conflict. You may never be able to change them, but you can respond in a fashion, listen, that you keep your peace, your joy, your happiness, the spirit of kindness and generosity in your life, the spirit of humility. You can live through it in spite of it no matter what. God will always be on the side of humility and forgiveness and graciousness and kindness if we respond that way. Now, one last thing I want you to remember and that's this, conflict is inevitable. The way I respond is my choice.
And if you and I respond correctly, God will grow us up. Thank you for listening to Confronting Conflict. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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