The Problem is in Here

Posted: December 20, 2018 in Conflict Resolution

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts (James 4:1-3).

“The problem in this conflict is you.”  At least that’s the way we often look at it.  The conflict is outside of me and if I could just correct you or that situation, then the conflict would disappear.  This is what people often seem to think when they divorce.  And several years into the next marriage they are having the same problems.

All our issues begin in the heart and then manifest themselves in some action.  Jesus said,

Out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander (Matt. 15:19).

Conflict often results because of a heart problem.  We want but don’t get what we want, so we become angry or agitated.

Of course, we think our wants are warranted or justified.  He wants to spend money on one thing, believing it to be best, and she wants to spend it on another, also believing it to be best.  Church conflicts often involve people who are reading the same Bible but seeing it differently.  But both think that they are seeing it right.

Many of our conflicts come down to simple pride.  I don’t want to admit that I’m wrong.  I don’t want your position to be right because I will have to make some changes that I don’t want to make.  I don’t want to consider another way of seeing the world because it will shake the foundations of the way I’ve been seeing it, and I would rather that that not take place.  So, we dig our heels in.  Some dig them deeper than others.

A group at University College London studied this phenomenon by asking people to look at two groups of dots and then determine which group had more dots.  Then they rated how confident they were in their choices.  Afterwards the researchers challenged the choices with some data that suggested that they might be wrong.  As a result, some people adjusted their opinion, but others did not.

The point of the study was to determine why some hold radical political views despite evidence that suggests that they are wrong.  The study seems to suggest what scripture stated long ago – pride.  “I have decided this is right and I cannot be wrong.”  This same pride causes personal, work, and church conflicts.

The cure for this malady is simple – humility.  “I could be wrong.”  But there are a lot of reasons I may not want to admit that I could be wrong.  I might look foolish.  People might use it against me in future disagreements.  It destroys a certain image of myself that I’ve created.

All of these are heart issues.  And if I want to deal with the conflicts in my life, I am going to have to deal with my own heart.  Why am I afraid of being wrong?  Why am I arguing this point so strongly when I know that the evidence supporting my position is not strong?  When we can begin answering these sorts of questions, we can begin dealing with some of the conflict in our lives.

Some, but not all.  Because I am in relationships with other people who are also dealing with the same heart issues as me.  But I can’t do much of anything about their heart.  It’s difficult enough to do anything about my own.

Paul’s admonition is appropriate here.

If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Rom. 12:18)