If God left us to ourselves, we could all break the best relationship, ever.
Even if we know all the right stuff about what are supposed to do when there is a conflict.
I know, because I’ve been in good churches, where there are people who know all the right information, and still, in spite of that, are being selfish and proud, and hurting people, and not seeming to change, and at the end of the day, that’s because, while you do need to know the right stuff to do, of course, if you are going to deal with conflict biblically, we are all so messed up, that we need more than just some information to get our relationships straight.
We need supernatural help.
We need grace.
And James tells us in James 4, that God is totally willing to give that.
“But God gives more grace.”
With all our problems and all the ways we can hurt each other and all the ways we can ruin things that start out so great, God gives more grace.
His grace is always bigger than our capacity to sin and hurt one another.
You think people are so bad.
There’s no hope for relationships.
God gives more grace.
You think you are so bad.
There’s no hope for relationships.
God gives more grace.
Which I think is seriously good news. Obviously. But He only gives this grace, James says, to people with a certain kind of attitude.
That’s the thing.
“But God gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Which is a warning and a promise.
The warning is God’s against you if you are proud.
Which means you can try as hard as you want, but it’s going to be hard to move forward, impossible, really, if the Almighty God is against you.
And so, you have to get this straight.
Or you never are going to benefit from conflict.
You can get all kinds of counseling and you can have all these people talking to you about how to have good relationships with others and how to deal with disagreements, but if inside, you are proud, all that’s going to be noise, and you are not going to be move forward, because God’s against you.
If you are humble.
This is the promise.
All the odds can be stacked against you, and everyone can be looking at you and saying, there’s no way this is going to turn out for, good, and yet, God’s going to give you all the help you need.
He gives more grace.
Which is why, I am so desperate, we as a church, in our relationship with God, and in our relationship with one another, make this one of our most important priorities.
We want to enjoy unity.
So we need to pursue humility.
All the time.
When we are starting to have a hard time getting along.
With someone else.
God will help us do what’s impossible, and that is have deep, biblical friendships here at the church, for a long time, with people who are so different than we are, if only, we’ll be humble.
Which means what?
Because, that’s the thing, isn’t it?
I guess, this is nice, so far, what I am saying, but it’s pretty general.
You need to be humble.
If you are going to be united.
But you knew that.
The question is, what does this kind of humility, look like in real life? When we are in the middle of a conflict?
Looking verses 7 through 12.
We see James tells us.
Over the next several posts, I want us to look at six specific commitments you need to make if you are going to humble yourself in the middle of your conflict with others.
Humility means, committing to making what God wants more important than what we want.
In any given situation.
Commitment number one.
“I commit to doing what God wants even if it is not what I want.”
“Submit yourselves therefore to God.”
In light of what I just said about humility and grace.
This is what it looks like in real life.
Submit yourselves to God.
Make a decision to line yourself up underneath God’s authority.
This is important because most of the time when you have conflict, you are not thinking about what God wants.You are not going around gossiping and avoiding that person, because you are just waking up in the morning, saying to yourself, oh I just want what God wants.
You are upset because somebody did something, that kept you from getting whatever it was, that you wanted.
This is the insight James gives us back in verse 1. “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you.”
Passions just means desires.
You have got something you want. And somebody gets in the way of what you want. And your desires, they are like soldiers.And they are ready to fight for your good, and so here you are, you want something, and you don’t get, so you do what you think it takes, to get it, which is maybe physical intimidation or yelling or whatever.
But the reason why differences and disagreements become these huge conflicts, is ultimately because, we’re following the world’s agenda.
Which is live for self.
That’s why James says in verse 4.
“You adulterous people. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
And that might seem strange to you.
Because why does that come after James talking about fighting and quarrelling, it’s because the reason we fight and quarrel is because we are thinking like the world.
How does the world think?
The world thinks I’ve got to be comfortable. I’ve got to get everyone to do what I want? I’ve got to get my agenda accomplished. Which is why when James defines what it looks like to be humble in the middle of a conflict, he starts here.
With submitting to God.
With basically saying, you know what, I am a Christian, and that means it’s not my passions, it’s not my desires, it’s not what I want that is so important in this situation, it is what God wants.
That’s what is going to matter most to me and control the way I think and the way I speak and what I do.
Someone is attacking you.
He’s going behind your back, telling stories about you.
Tear that person down. Attack back.
What does God want? Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.
You are in a disagreement with someone else.
You are confident you are right and they are wrong. And you are in the middle of a discussion with them about it.
Prove you are right. Make the other person understand they are wrong. Use whatever tactics you can to prove your point. Don’t worry about the other person. Just make sure you make them understand who is right and who is wrong.
What does God want? It’s the other person’s good.
“We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”
Depending on what the disagreement is about you might handle it differently, but you know whatever you do, whatever you say, it’s not about you, it’s about what is best for that other person.
Sometimes that means you will shut up and let it go. Sometimes that means you will come back at a different time. But whatever you do, it’s not about you.
But blessing the other person.
Somebody does something that just bugs you.
For the millionth time.
You’ve sat down and you have had a talk with them. You’ve explained why what they are doing causes you problems. They seem to understand. They agree. Then they do it again.
If they won’t listen to you, you shouldn’t listen to him.
If they annoy you, you annoy them.
Let them see how it feels.
Looks to God.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself…”
It’s the easiest thing in the world to say I am a humble person. I don’t know why I am having these conflicts when I am such a humble person.
But humility means something.
It means first of all submitting to God.
The way you respond when other people are doing what you don’t like, really tests, whether or not you think you are smarter and more important than God.
Because if you think you are smarter and more important than God, you know what you do, you do what you want.