How do we settle disputes, disagreements, misunderstandings with a brother/sister in the Lord, or even a leader in the Congregation? What is the appropriate, God-ordained way of proceeding with confrontation or defence over a matter?

First and foremost, just as in all matters, when we are believers/followers of Messiah, we must surrender that situation, and ask the Father/Son/Holy Spirit for direction, “trusting in the Lord with all our heart, leaning not on our own understanding, but rather acknowledging Him, so He can make our paths straight. Let us not be wise in our own eyes,” (Prov.3:3-7, paraphrased), but rather look to His leading, for He “will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go  . . . . give counsel . . . Do not be like the horse or the mule” (Ps.32:8,9). Instead of being stubborn and insisting on our own way, that we are right, we must seek His counsel. We must be able/willing to submit to HIS suggestion. Seek the Lord on how He wants you to proceed, and follow His instructions.
The second most important thing is forgiveness. If we have been wronged, we must forgive. “Master, how often shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Yeshua said to him, “No, not up to seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven! . . . . So also My heavenly Father will do to you, unless each of you, from your hearts, forgives his brother” (Matt.18:21,22,35). If we are at fault, we must confess/repent, and ask for forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

As much as is possible, in any conflict situation, our goal is to reach a peaceful solution: “Live in harmony with one another; If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in shalom with all people” (Rom.12:17,18), through a peaceful process, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph.4:15), while being assertive, and firm, without name-calling or other aggressive forms of unnecessary behaviour. We want to conduct ourselves always in a spirit of love, and forgiveness: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matt.5:44,45). We want to handle it according to His Ways, so we can “be perfect, just as our Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt.5:48).

We want to conduct ourselves always in a spirit of love, and forgiveness

Sometimes, however, things do not go smoothly, and the other person is disagreeable, impossible to deal with, no matter how we’ve attempted to follow the prescribed format. We are kind, and they are nasty. We are willing to compromise, but they are not. Still, we are advised to not seek revenge, show as much kindness as we can, and leave the rest to the Lord: “Repay no one evil for evil; give thought to what is good in the eyes of all people.  Never take your own revenge, loved ones, but give room for God’s wrath—for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,” says Adonai” (Rom.12:17,19). Do not say, “I will pay back evil!” Wait for Adonai, so He may deliver You” (Prov.20:22). “Do not say, “I will do to him what he has done to me; I will pay him back for his deed!” (Prov.24:29).  “Vengeance is Mine, and payback” (Deut.32:35). We have no recourse but to trust in the Lord to bring justice to the situation. Somehow, at some point, in His timing, He will bring justice to ALL situations. We must surrender the outcome.Our job is to “Humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift us up, in due time . . . .  not speak evil against one another, brethren” (James 4:10). Let us choose to do things God’s Way, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, not hypocritical. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in shalom by those who make shalom” (James 3:16-18). And that is how we resolve conflicts according to God’s Word.
© 2018, re-edited 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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