Meanwhile, as I was sorting papers, I came across a neat little booklet by Wayne Mack, a Christian Counsellor. It's called, "You Can Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts."
It's a great little booklet that discusses the difficulties between two women in the Bible, Euodia and Syntyche. I remember a pastor once joking that their nicknames were "Odious" and "Soon-Touchy". At any rate, they weren't getting along, and Paul urged them to live in harmony, and he urged their fellow workers to help them get along. The booklet spells out the responsibility Christians have in seeking help with interpersonal conflicts when they arise, as well as the responsibility of others to counsel those going through difficulties.
There are some good Suggested Assignments at the back of the booklet. I'll copy them here for anyone who is interested:
1. Make a list of several biblical principles for solving interpersonal conflicts.
2. Circle the principles that you are guilty of violating. Confess your sins to God, seek cleansing through the blood of Christ, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you make the necessary changes.
3. Make a list of what you have done or said that may have aggravated the situation. The list should be very specific; it should include sins of omission as well as commission, sins of attitude as well as words and actions. When you ask for forgiveness, be very careful to accept full responsibility for your own sins. Talk about what you have done. Don't justify or seek to rationalize. Be brief and to the point, and beware of violating the principles expressed in the following three passages:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ~Ephesians 5:1-6
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. ~Matthew 7:1-5
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. ~James 4:11
4. Study Romans 12:18-21; Philippians 2:1-9; 4-8; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:12-15; Matthew 5:42-49. Make a list of insights that these Scriptures give for preventing or solving interpersonal conflicts. Review these verses and insights daily.
5. Make a list of good qualities or actions found in the other person's life (past or present). Look for opportunities to express your appreciation for the other person's good qualities and actions.
6. Make a list of specific, practical ways that you can serve, help, encourage or please the other person. Begin immediately to put items on the list into practice.
7. Assume personal responsibility for the other person's reputation.
8. Ask him for his advice on a question or project in which you are interested and about which he has some knowledge.
9. Seek out a Christian counsellor and ask him to help you become more biblical in your lifestyle in general and in your relationships in particular. Certainly your main desire in life should be to glorify God, and that will happen as you become more biblical in your living. If you have conflicts or problems that you have not been able to handle on your own, plan now from whom and when you will seek God's kind of help for your own life.
We live in a world that is full of sinners. Look in the mirror to find the one with whom you will always have the most trouble. Expect conflict in your life - it's going to happen - and learn to deal with it Biblically. In so doing, you will glorify God and find peace.
If you have time (and it's worth every second) listen to D.A. Carson speak on The God Who Helps.