7 Keys for Resolving Conflict


Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Do you ever need help just getting along? Would you say “Yeah addressing conflict resolution would help me on more than one occasion.” This post is for you. It’s not just for you individually or in terms of your interpersonal relationships. It’s for the Church.  God has given a glorious mission to the Church of Jesus Christ. It is a critically important mission:

We have been called to receive the gift of salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, eternal life and to take that very message to the end of the Earth. We cannot afford the distraction of unresolved conflict.

In Philippians 4:1-3 Paul models seven practical steps for conflict resolution:

1. Admit that you are in conflict. Paul calls out two leaders in the church at Philippi, challenging them to admit their conflict and come to an agreement.  There is no resolution until you face the obvious.

I spoke with a leader recently who believes their organization is not growing. It was a growing, thriving group at one time, but that growth has ceased and they are failing to reach their potential because the leader fears conflict.  In fact, the leader avoids conflict at all cost and in this case, the cost is the health of the organization. The reality is that there are times when growth will only come through conflict – it’s not good to deny it when it is there and often unwise to run from it when it is not.

2. Look for points of agreement. Paul writes, ‘I entreat you… to agree in the Lord!’ Literally, “to have the same mind.” Find that which you agree upon. Start there. Focus upon that.

Have you ever been to a funeral, a wedding or a graduation – one of those big moments in life – and there are family members that are at odds with one another? So much so, that sometimes they don’t even show up. They are choosing to ignore the many things they share in common in order to hold onto their offense.  Often the simple step of focusing upon what unites you will diminish what divides you.

3. Get help. Paul mentions an unidentified person he calls his “true companion.” He says, “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women.” This is very wise advice. If you are in a conflict and you are not getting along, get someone to sit with you. Get a referee. Get someone who will come in, help you understand one another, help you communicate, help you work toward the goal of getting along.

4. Capitalize on your shared past. Paul recalls great memories in planting the church at Philippi, and he remind the leading ladies that they all labored together.

Relationships are a lot like golf.  You can destroy a great round in one hole of golf, in the last hole. It’s that way in life. In similar fashion, you can have a great relationship, a great friendship, a great shared past, but you have to battle for it every day. You have to work at your marriage every day. You have to work at your friendships every day. It’s tragic, but we can throw it all away in a moment. So capitalize on your shared past.

5. Draw near to Christ, according the gospel. Paul writes, “I entreat you to agree…” and how does he finish it? “I entreat you to agree in the Lord.” You see he is appealing to the fact that their relationship is in Christ, that they have been changed by knowing Christ and what Christ has done in their life.

I was conversing with a gentleman this week who was counseling someone. He said that a woman had gone to her pastor and she said, “Pastor, the closer I get to the Lord, the further away I get from my husband.” That pastor said, “I don’t know who you are getting close to, but it’s not the Lord, because the truth is: The closer we get to God, the more humble we become, the more broken before him, the more grateful, and the more relational.”

Draw near to Christ, according to – not your own works, not your own rightness, not your own righteousness, not your own accomplishments – but according to the gospel. “God, I draw near to you because of what Jesus Christ has done for me. Lord, in my sin I seek you and receive forgiveness as a gift.”

6. Consider eternity. Paul reminds his readers of a glorious truth, mainly that their names are in the book of life.  Now, that’s a serious idea, isn’t it?  There is a book, and when your name is written in that book, you have eternal life. And your name is written in that book according to your faith in Jesus Christ, according to God’s salvation – Jesus’ payment for your sin. Consider eternity.

I think his point is this: Jesus loved this person enough to die for them. Their names are written in the book of life by the blood of Jesus. Do you not value this person? Do you so value your perspective, and being right, that that is more important to you than this other person? Pretty much, that’s what’s going on, and Paul is bringing a corrective to us. Eternity is at stake. Consider eternity.

7. Over-communicate affection. Paul just pours out love on these people. He over communicates his affection as  he writes, ‘I love you. I long for you. My brothers. In fact, you are my crown and joy; you are my reward. Think about all your various relationships: parents, children, siblings, and friends. Communicate your love for others. Do it verbally. Do it physically. Don’t assume it. Don’t neglect it. Love covers a multitude of sins.

Think about your personal communication with your spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters in church, if you’re in church. Say “Lord, help us to walk wisely, but also in love according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Amen?

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Related Resources

Riverside completed a new teaching series on the book of Philippians, penned by the Apostle Paul while locked away in prison. This study uncovered the invaluable life lessons and the secret of unbroken joy, found in Christ, in any and every circumstance.

Listen the sermon entitled 7 Keys for Resolving Conflict from Philippians 4:1-3 by Brian Brookins.

Download the Transcript  |  Download the MP3