Mike Welborn is a longtime friend of Eric and UCH. We hope you find encouragement in his practical words.
Our natural tendency is to hate our enemies or at least to avoid them at all cost. But if you run from conflict, you’re going to be miserable most of your life. Jesus calls us to a higher standard. He calls us to be peacemakers — not peacekeepers. There’s a huge difference. Peacekeepers avoid conflict and pretend it doesn’t exist. But peacemakers resolve conflict and reconcile relationships.
The Bible promises this: “Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness” (James 3:18 TLB).
When you plant a seed, you always get back more than you started with. If you plant an apple seed, you get a whole tree full of apples in return. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. If you plant a seed of conflict, you’ll wind up with a lot more trouble than you bargained for. But the Bible says if you plant seeds of peace, you will reap a harvest of peace, kindness, and goodness in return.
So how do you do that? One of the most important life skills that you will ever learn is conflict resolution. Over the next two weeks we will cover seven keys to becoming a peacemaker in the midst of conflict. Here are the first three.
- Make the first move. Don’t wait for the person to come to you. You take the initiative. Buy that person a cup of coffee or go to lunch together. Jesus took the initiative to show mercy to us. The Bible says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us …. While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son”(Romans 5:8b, 10a ESV). Jesus didn’t wait for us to apologize. He didn’t even wait for us to feel bad about our behavior. Jesus made the first move. And he wants us to do the same thing.
- Ask God for wisdom. God is always glad to help you when you’re doing what he says. The Bible says, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you”(James 1:5a TLB). Ask God to help you decide the right time and the right place to plan a peace conference. Ask him to give you the right words to say and the right way to say them. The Bible says, “The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver”(Proverbs 25:11 CEV).
- Start with your own confession. Don’t start with a bunch of accusations. Don’t start with the ways you’ve been hurt. Start with what’s your fault. The conflict may be 99.99999 percent the other person’s fault. But you can find something to confess. Instead of accusing the other person — and instead of excusing yourself — start with your own mistakes, even if it was your poor response. But you begin with what was your fault.
Peacemaking isn’t a well-developed skill in our world today, but it’s a skill that can be learned. In fact, Jesus calls all believers to be peacemakers. We will post part two of this installment next month when we look at four more keys to biblical peacemaking.