Conflicts happen between the best of friends and family. That’s the sad reality of living in a fallen world. But it seems to happen just as much within the Church. I’ve seen enough Church conflicts to notice that the “gift of discernment” can be misused, or add to the complications in a conflict.
If you think you have the “gift of discernment” when it comes to relating to people, be careful that you don’t assume to know someone else’s heart. Only God knows the motives of the heart. We can evaluate actions, and should be attentive to coming alongside a friend who has a blind spot, but we don’t know another person’s inner thoughts or motives.
We must be careful that our “discernment” is not sinful judgment or faulty perception.
God provides us with a template for relating to others in a way that glorifies Him. If you have trouble with the concept of “thinking the best (until proven otherwise), rather than assuming the worst” consider using this template in all your relationships:
[box]Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:1 –17)[/box]
This passage helps me when my perception is actually just a warped version of reality. Read through this passage again in light of a current conflict you’re experiencing and answer the questions below to see how you’re doing in “thinking the best rather than assuming the worst.”
- Is your perception of that person coming from a compassionate perspective?
- Is your perception kind?
- Is your view of that individual based on prideful assumptions?
- Have you failed to show meekness in your thought process toward this person?
- Are you being patient with this person, considering what they are facing, difficulties they might be dealing with, are you taking into account their past hurts or present needs?
- Are you “bearing with them?” (That means showing gracious forbearance, which is just “letting go” of things that don’t really matter.)
- Are you working to resolve the conflict based on the forgiveness model that Christ has given us?
- Are you “putting on love” as you think about this person? In other words, are your thoughts and perception of the other person truly based in a self-sacrificing love for them?
Okay, here’s my request:
Will you keep this passage and questions on hand for the next time you’re involved in a conflict?
Maybe pass this post on to a friend who is struggling in a difficult relationship right now?
Is there anyone you need to invite to walk through the process of this passage with you?
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