The holidays are a time of family, thanksgiving, and conflict. We all have that one family member who makes holiday gatherings awkward with the things they say or do. In these times, turning ourselves over to anger or spitefulness can be easy. As Christians, we must remember to approach conflict in ways that are representative of our faith, and that mirror the teachings of Christ to the best of our ability, especially when in conflict with those we love. How can Christians be more like Christ this holiday season in dealing with conflict?
Compassion is the term often used throughout the Gospel to describe God. To show compassion is to show empathy; understanding someone else’s condition and circumstances can give us insight into why they behave the way they do or say the things they say. Keeping Proverbs 18:13 in mind, we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. This can be difficult when everyone involved has been hurt or when you’re doing hurtful things. Being the one to put aside differences, even temporarily, is a sign of matured faith and reflective of our Lord Jesus.
Being able to show that you love another person, even in the heat of conflict, is kindness. When showing kindness, remember that actions can speak just as loudly as words. Our body language and tone of voice can combine to make a situation better or worse. Jesus would not be rolling his eyes or shrugging his shoulders at someone who presented Him with conflict. Remember, nobody is perfect. We are all sinners in need of God.
Personal gain through conflict is a fatal flaw every Christian should strive to avoid. Too often, conflict among Christians becomes about placing blame and hurting one another. In Thessalonians 5:11, Christians are instructed to build one another up in Christ. How can we hope to mature in our faith if we only focus on ourselves and our ambitions?
When conflict rears its ugly head, it is usually a firestorm of emotions and actions. It’s impossible for us to decide when and where conflict occurs, but it’s possible to determine how to address it. Gentleness in conflict can be considered a strategic approach to conflict. The Bible tells us that there is a time for everything; anger, sadness, grief, etc. Be gentle not only in focusing on your emotions but also in how you focus them. Using defensive language or accusatory tones is not a gentle approach to conflict. Be mindful of when and how you speak.
Think about how patient God is with us. Do you try to be as patient with those you’re in conflict with? Patience is the culmination of all that we mentioned above, even when the results don’t turn out in our favor. God doesn’t attempt to strike us down every time we sin, and we shouldn’t be so quick to throw lightning bolts at people. We are called as Christians to speak, move, and think like Jesus. Without patience, how can we even hope to make an attempt?
Being able to embody any of these attributes during a conflict is easier said than done. As we should build each other up to be better Christians and better people, NuWell Christian Counseling can coach you or your family in learning to approach conflict like Christ. Our Christian counselors can prepare you to emulate Christ-like manners and help make any holiday conflict a chance to turn disaster into discipleship.