Go with Hope

by Joe Johns
Welcome to the final part of this timely encouragement and practical help in resolving conflict among believers.  Be sure to catch up on earlier installments.
Our base camp for this study has been Philippians where Paul exhorts two believers in conflict to reconcile and be of the same mind.  Note verse 8 and 9…
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.   (Philippians 4:2-9)
The fourth step of Peacemaking could be said like this:  Go with Hope.
His concluding thoughts on the matter is to dwell on that which breeds hope, not on the conflict itself.
It’s so easy to go negative, right?
The story is told of a hunter who got a new hunting dog.  After shooting a duck that fell into the pond, the dog went to retrieve it—but walked on water to do so.  Stunned and amazed, the owner called his neighbor to come witness his incredible new dog.  But after seeing the dog retrieve several more ducks by walking on water, the neighbor was silent.  Finally, the hunter asked his neighbor, “don’t you notice anything incredible about my dog?”  The neighbor rubbed his chin and said, “it’s a shame he can’t swim.”
It’s easy to see the bad when we’re looking for it.

When we are in conflict, Satan tempts us to dwell on the negative.  Our brains can easily become rutted—we effortlessly and unconsciously rehearse all that’s wrong with our situation. We recite the harm done to us and feel the negative feels all over again.
But we must understand:  when we dwell on the wrong done to us, we sin.  Grumbling and complaining against others is a sin. (Philippians 2:14, Exodus 16: 2-3, 1Peter 4:9). The holy way is to set our minds on praiseworthy and excellent things.
How can we do this in a conflict situation?
I suggest starting with a passage of scripture such as Ephesians 1:3-10 and writing it out substituting the word “us” and "we" with the name of the person with whom you’re in conflict.  Other similar passages include Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-12, Ephesians 3:16-19.
The goal here is to set your mind on your perceived antagonist with godly and good perspective.  Searching out something praiseworthy in them will soften your heart and give some positive perspective that might just move the conflict toward a new breakthrough.
It’s not easy to be a peacemaker.  It’s very counterintuitive at times and can cut against the grain of what seems normal to us.  That’s why Paul says we need examples to follow.
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.   (Philippians 4:9)
The fact is some are more practiced and mature at resolving conflict as scripture counsels us.  As I’ve often said, everyone seems mature until you have a conflict with them.  But peacemakers are among us.  When you encounter conflict, seek help from those who have set an example for conflict resolution in their own lives.  It doesn’t have to be formal, but it does need to be personal.
Here at Fellowship, Nehemiah Partners, is a great starting point.  It’s a peer-based counseling initiative with folks skilled at helping others to have hope in overcoming their conflicts.
To recap, we see 4 Steps to resolving conflict from Paul in Philippians 4.  All of them require us to GO to the other and initiate attempts at resolution.
  1. Go with Gratitude. (verses 2-4)
  2. Go with Repentance. (verse 5)
  3. Go with Peace.  (verse 6-7)
  4. Go with Hope.  (verses 8-9)
I hope you will spend some time reading and meditating on these verses and see what God might further reveal to you about any conflicts you may currently have with other believers and how to resolve them in ways that honor Christ.
May you experience the blessedness of being a peacemaker.

And may Fellowship be stronger for it.

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