Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Handling Conflict: What should we do first?

31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. 1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11:1

God has created us as unique individuals with different opinions, convictions, desires, perspectives, and priorities. At some point in life, you will have conflict with someone. It will be at work, at church, family reunions or in inner family circles, with friends, with neighbors, on the baseball field, at restaurants, and we could go on. God shares with us about how to handle conflict all over the New Testament. I think we need to seek His understanding of how we, as Christians, are supposed to handle conflict.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” William Ellery Channing said, “Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.” Paul has stated certain great principles that relate to Christian liberty. One of those principles is: "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient." Also, "all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." Now here is another one: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, and whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." This is the test every believer should apply to his life. Not "should I do this, or should I do that," but "can I do it for the glory of God?" Unfortunately, there are Christians who don't even go to church for the glory of God. They go for some other reason -- maybe to criticize or to gossip. With a motive like that it is better to stay at home. Whatever a believer does should be done for the glory of God. That is very important. —J. Vernon McGee's Thru The Bible

Three things we can take away from this:
I. Sinful Attitudes and Behavior

If we are to follow the Great Commandment given my our Savior, “Love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, strength, and love your neighbor as yourself”, then our focus is clear. We cannot love the world and love God, love our jobs, then love God, love our spouses and then love God….the point is to love God first and focus on Him totally.

WE HAVE A PROBLEM: WE FOCUS ON SELF. Roman unbelievers described: “The being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;” Romans 1:29-31 (NASB95)

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” 1 Peter 2:1 (NASB95)

INSTEAD WE NEED TO FOCUS ON “What Christ wants me to do?”, God’s Purpose for my life and His Will….My obedience towards His will. NON-CHRISTIANS do not have Christ nor the Holy Spirit. They do not understand the love that Christ has shared with us that we are to share with others and the sacrifice He has made for us. WEAK CHRISTIANS are to look at the stronger Christians as examples as mentors of how to live out life with Christ and to be disciples of Christ living in the world. STRONG CHRISTIANS are to be the examples living according to God's will and all can see the fruits of the Spirit in their life.

II. Give no Offense….Serve

Here Paul divides the whole world into three groups: Jews, Gentiles, and church of God. Some of these folk have differing beliefs. An example would be the Jewish abhorrence of pork. It would certainly give offense to invite a Jewish friend for dinner and serve him ham. A believer should love other people enough so that his actions will not offend them. There are a lot of Gentiles who have peculiar notions too. It would be impossible to please all of them, but we should try not to offend those with whom we have contact. Neither should we offend those who are of the church of God.

Some young people who were rebelling against "the establishment" came to me and said they had attended a certain church and were rebuked because of the way they dressed. They asked me if I thought the members of that church were all wrong. I told them I thought that both groups were wrong. Neither acted in love. The members of the church were wrong in criticizing them before others. On the other hand, these young folk knew their clothes and hair would be an offense to the members of the church. So none of them showed love toward the other. We are told that we are not to offend either the Jews, the Gentiles, or the church of God. This includes the entire human family.

"These are the three divisions of the human family today, but one of these days the church of God is going to leave this earth. Then there will be only the Jews and Gentiles in the world, and God has a tremendous program which will take place at that time." —J. Vernon McGee's Thru The Bible

“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.” Romans 14:13 (NASB95)

Why are we to serve them? We should please all men so that they may be saved!!! That’s the goal: keep the peace, lead in the example in Jesus Christ, so that mankind would be saved…our little example…for the world. This is how deep our discipleship is….how deep our calling… deep our understanding of God’s will for our life should be.

III. Be Imitators

Now primarily what we do we are to do for the glory of God -- "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." A Christian woman can wash dishes and sweep the floor to the glory of God. A Christian man can mow the lawn and dig a ditch for the glory of God. Regardless of what you are doing, if you cannot do it for the glory of God, you should not be doing it. As we live like this we are a testimony to the world -- that those who are lost might be saved.—J.Vernon McGee's Thru The Bible

We should be pressed to lead and serve by show others Jesus by our examples. Why? We are showing Christ through us. We are told to share the Good News and I am not taking away from that. We also, by imitating Christ, are showing others who He is with our attitudes, actions, behaviors, speech, passions and desires. Do we desire to imitate Christ in our daily lives? Don't just sit there....DO SOMETHING!!!!!

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