Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Disagreements Are Natural; How You Resolve Them Is Supernatural

Disagreements are an unfortunate fact of life. You could be the nicest, kindest, gentlest, most agreeable person in the world but at some point you will have a disagreement with someone. Disagreements, arguments, even fights are disturbing to us all and happen when we have a differing perspective, opinion or are disappointed by someone's actions or words. It can cause us to be unsettled, anxious, even depressed. The worse disagreements can even find us in court.

The most common disagreements are between a husband and wife because it is the most intimate relationship that exists. Such intimacy requires vulnerability. In order to be married a couple must learn to compromise and  have respect for each other. Being married is not magical but it is a wonderful mystery as two people set aside their individual lives to create a shared life. The Scriptures describe it as two becoming one. This is not an easy thing so once the "honey moon" is over the real work begins. Arguments and disagreements are going to happen and they must be resolved with love which demands us to put the interest of the other person ahead of our own; to love, honour and respect each other.

Regardless of who is arguing and disagreeing or even what it concerns, the important thing to understand is that it must be resolved quickly. An unresolved disagreement will fester and become larger than the original. Over time we build our case and add things to it. It takes a deeper root and starts affecting every aspect of that relationship. Unresolved and unforgiven disagreements can come back years later as a "Godzilla" of a problem. It will also affect our relationship with Jesus.

Jesus taught a couple of things about disagreements. The first was to deal with it quickly:

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

The Kingdom is all about relationships and in order for relationships to work two phrases must become easily used in our vocabulary: "I am sorry" and "I forgive you". How can we worship God and expect a good relationship there when we can't even deal with those who we see every day? How can we seek forgiveness from God when we can't even seek forgiveness from our friends? The apostle John wrote,

"For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20)

So Jesus is saying that dealing with this is even more important than worship because we can't worship properly without dealing with it. Then Jesus taught:

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:25-26)

Disagreements can be dangerous, producing things we did not expect. Don't allow your pride to permit it to fester into something with more severe consequences. Deal with it before it spreads and involves more people. What we do in these disagreements is to try to get as many people on our side as we can, especially if we believe we were in the right. The more people we have with us the more we dig in and refuse to resolve it. Take care of it before it becomes disproportionate to the original problem.

The best instruction the Scriptures give us is found in apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians as he wrote to them with instructions on living as the children of the Light:

"In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26)

It sounds so simple and yet I have failed this instruction many times. Pride gets in our way. An unwillingness to actually deal with it is often the male problem. Sometimes we would rather deny and avoid thinking it will all just go away, but it doesn't. We can wake in the morning to find that tiny disagreement has mushroomed into an ugly monster and the enemy is there to make sure it is used to divide husband and wife, parents and children, good friends.

Disagreements happen but how you handle it shows what kind of person you are and reveals the maturity you have achieved in Jesus. If you think being right is more important than keeping a good friend then you do not know as you ought to know. The Kingdom is about relationships and love, so understand that the Father's love, is the only way that relationships work as they should:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:4-6) 

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