How Do You Handle Conflict

Posted by Melissa

Read Genesis 13:1-7.

In a perfect world, we’d all get along. All the beauty queens who wished for world peace would get it. But since our world is extremely broken, conflict is inevitable. What matters the most is how we handle it—in front of believers and non-believers.

We know this: all people are created differently—with different passions, gifts, personalities, and talents; therefore, disagreements are bound to take place.

As you read through Genesis 13:1-7, what did you notice about Abram and Lot?

They were family. But, even more than that, they were extremely close, having lived and traveled together for a long time. Through poverty and trouble, wanderings and miracles, they were never separated. Not until their meddlesome herdsman started causing trouble did it put a wedge between them.

Whether you’ve known someone for five minutes or your whole life, trouble is bound to show up sooner or later. The question is: will you let it come between you? Will you let conflict drive you apart? Or will you let it go and hand it over to God?

The family of God has a strong bond under the leadership of Jesus. This month, we’ll talk about what Scripture says about conflict, how you should deal with it among believers and non-believers, and what your role is as a peacemaker in Christ’s kingdom.

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Speak Grace

Posted by Melissa

Has your knee ever gotten mad at your hand when you got a paper cut on your hand? Has your toe ever been upset with your head when you bumped your head on the car door?

Umm, probably not. Why? Because it simply does not make sense for your body parts to get mad at each other. Yet, believers are the body of Christ, and we often war against one another.

Read Ephesians 4:25-29, reading verse 29 out loud.

According to these verses, why should we speak the truth to one another?

Is it OK for a Christian to be angry? Why or why not?

How should we respond when we get angry?

In the verses that lead up to today’s passage, we are instructed to “put on the new self” (Eph. 4:24). What does that mean, and how does your understanding affect how you understand today’s passage?

Before you say anything, ask yourself these three questions: Is what I am about to say true? Do I really need to say it? Will the people who hear it be encouraged toward Christlikeness or discouraged? If you cannot say yes to all of these questions, you probably should keep your mouth shut. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have to say some difficult things—sometimes people need to be confronted in their sin. However, it does mean that you should do it with an aim of helping them to grow in Christ—not just to point out that they’re wrong.

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Don’t Be A Stumbling Block

Posted by Melissa

I love to watch buildings get demolished. It’s very exciting! You can sit and watch a building being built for an entire day, and the building site will basically look the same at the end of the day as it did that morning. But when a demolition crew takes down a building, it happens fast!

Read Romans 14:13-18. Focus on verse 13.

Describe the stumbling blocks referred to in the text. Can you think of other stumbling blocks?

What does the Bible say that people should stumble over? (Hint: See 1 Cor. 1:23.)

How has someone been a stumbling block to you in your journey of faith? How have you been a stumbling block to someone else? Explain.

Why is it a problem if you know something you’re doing is keeping others from growing in their faith and you choose to keep doing it?

Whom are we serving when we avoid doing something we feel is acceptable before God in order to not be a stumbling block for others? Explain.

I don’t know why I like to watch things being demolished, but I do know that watching lives get demolished is no fun at all. Just like a building, a life can get demolished in a hurry. A careless comment here, a thoughtless remark there, or a “helpful” criticism every so often, and friendships that took years to build can fall apart in an instant. When you are tempted to exercise your “gift” of criticism, don’t. Our task as believers is to encourage and edify each other, not tear each other down. Believe it or not, your criticism can become a stumbling block in another believer’s life that causes his or her spiritual growth to stall or even stop. Don’t spend your time and your words creating pitfalls for other believers. Encourage and speak the truth in love when the Spirit leads you!

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There Is Only One Judge

Posted by Melissa

Have you ever taught someone how to play a game or sport? I have. It’s hard work. There are a lot of rules to teach your student, and you have to make sure that you direct him or her closely.

Sometimes after teaching someone something new, a strange thing happens. After working hard to teach your student the game, another person comes along, and the student becomes the teacher. Your student begins to teach the new person, then relentlessly criticizes him when he gets something wrong. Ten minutes ago your student had never heard of the game, and now he wants to act like an expert! Sadly, we sometimes act like that in the Christian life.

Read James 4:11-12, zoning in on verse 12.

The verses leading up to today’s passage are about humility. What does being humble have to do with the passage for today?

What are we really doing when we criticize and judge other believers?

Is being “a judge” rather than “a doer of the law” a good thing or a bad thing? (Hint: see James 1:22-25.) Why or why not?

Who is the “one lawgiver and judge” that James wrote about in verse 12?

What do these verses have to do with how we treat other believers?

When we criticize other believers, we are acting as if we are the judge, but there is really only one Judge—and He has been infinitely kind to us. The ground around the cross is level. We all stand there as sinners in need of a Savior. Make sure you keep that in mind when you stand in judgment of a fellow believer’s words or actions.

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Little Things

Posted by Melissa

Have you ever watched preschoolers fight over something silly like a crayon or an old broken toy? One of them will pick it up, and the other one will swear that it is his. Then the shouting starts, followed by the screaming, then the pushing, and finally, the crying.

How did something so small get so blown out of proportion? The sad fact, though, is that we’re really not that different from the preschoolers.

Read Romans 14:5-12, making note of verse 10.

What kinds of disagreements were the people in this passage having?

Since we are all living (and dying) and eating (and not eating) for the Lord, what should our attitudes be? (Hint: See 1 Cor. 10:31.)

Why should we avoid criticizing and looking down on other believers?

What do you find yourself criticizing other believers about? Why? Is it really important, or are you making a big deal out of something insignificant?

In the Christian life, there are some things worth fighting for. Jesus is God. Jesus rose from the dead. God created all things. Jesus is the only way to salvation. God is three-in-one.

Be ready to stand firm on those things, but know that there are also things that we don’t need to fight over. Sometimes, we can make a big deal out of something insignificant. Many believers have lost good relationships and some churches have split because of this.

When you have a disagreement with another believer, search the Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom to distinguish between the things that are of first importance and the things on which you can agree to disagree.

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