I recently found out that a distant cousin of mine hasn’t spoken to his immediate family in over six years. One day he got upset, took his wife, left, and won’t talk to anyone. The family isn’t sure if he knows his mom passed away last year. Whatever grievance or conflict he had; he’s chosen to run from it instead of resolving it.
If you have a family, there is a one hundred percent chance you will face conflict. There’s just no way around it. It’s going to happen.
When you deal with people, you’re dealing with imperfect ideas, standards, and opinions. This is often the breeding ground for an outburst of anger, harsh words, and stubborn pride. It makes dealing with family conflict even more difficult, but not impossible.
The question is, what do you do when you face it?
Here are three God-honoring answers on how to deal with family conflict.
Don’t be lazy.
At first glance, it might seem weird that this is my first point but let me explain. How often has conflict surfaced in your home because you or another family member is lazy? Probably way more than you think.
The Bible says, “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.” (Proverbs 18:9) I’ve seen laziness destroy more than one home. Don’t be lazy in your service to your family. And don’t be lazy in fighting for peace in your home.
Laziness is never the road to peace.
Don’t murder anyone.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you chuckled at this point. You’re probably thinking, “I would never murder anyone, especially my family.” And I hope that’s true.
Murder, however improbable you might think it is, was serious enough of a point for God to put it in the Ten Commandments. He said, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) He put it there to remind us that murder isn’t the way to settle a conflict.
Jesus took this command a step further when he said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
Jesus is saying that you might not be committing homicide, but when you hate people, especially your family, you’re equally as guilty. In other words, don’t murder people in your heart. It violates God’s law of love.
No conflict in the history of the world has ever been resolved through hate and resentment. Don’t murder.
Let go of the anger.
I know you have the right to be angry. Right? I mean, after all that your family did to you and how they did you wrong. You are justified in your anger, and you have the right to hold onto it for years. Right?
I get that people do hurtful things, and the pain of that hurt is real. And some things should make you mad.
But did you know that anger is a tool the enemy uses to control your life? The Bible says, “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-28)
Did you also know that anger never produces the life God wants in you? The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
Since anger gives the enemy a foothold in your life and doesn’t produce in you the life God wants, chances are your anger is causing conflict in your family instead of healing it.
Let go of the anger and forgive. You’re only hurting yourself if you don’t. You should “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13)