One of the kicks I’ve been getting lately are the jokes going around about families being bundled up together during this season. I have also stumbled upon some unhumorous “statistics” anticipating that divorce rates will peak. Now, I don’t think it’s rocket science as to why this idea is being disseminated and propagated: that men and women cannot live with one another peacefully and happily due to relational conflicts that are bound to arise when living together.
Relational conflicts sap our joy. They wreak havoc and destruction. Yet, there must be ways in which they can be amicably solved. Unless they are conscientious convictions which demand that we stand our ground even if doing so may cost us relationships.
Main Cause of Relational Conflict
I have had a lot of time to reflect and read up on why we find conflict resolution so hard. The underlying problem, as shared by many authors, is *drumrolls please*… PRIDE! Ugly, selfish, pride. We either don’t want or don’t know how to be vulnerable. There is so much at stake: we fear that once we’ve let our vulnerability out of the bag, we can never bag it again. Perhaps our fear is more tangible, that our vulnerability will either be used as an attacking point or a squeezable point of weakness; or, we simply don’t want to admit how selfish and foolish we really are.
Jon Bloom avers,
“Pride is the enemy inside that speaks to us like a friend. Its counsel sounds so much like self-protection, preservation, and promotion that we’re often blinded to the fact that it’s destroying us and others. It rises in great indignation as a prosecuting attorney when others’ pride damages us, but it minimizes, qualifies, excuses, rationalizes, and blame-shifts our behavior when we damage others. We can be easily deceived into believing that our pride wants to save us, when really, it’s our internal Judas betraying us with a kiss.”
Beloved, the only path to peace with one another according to Romans 12:18 is by killing our pride. We must put it to death. Aptly put, mortify it.
The only way of doing so is by pursuing its opposite. Humility.
What then is humility? The Bible has multiple verses on humility, including “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5), and, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself, will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
C.S. Lewis skillfully asserts with an unforgettable play on words, that humility is not thinking less of oneself but thinking of oneself less. The humble don’t think of themselves much—meaning they are not self-preoccupied. They do not fear vulnerability or being labeled ‘weak’. It is okay to admit how foolish and selfish we are. In view of God’s holiness and our sinfulness, humble people do not think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Romans 12:3).
“Humility is not thinking less of oneself but thinking of oneself less.”
— C.S. Lewis
It is by humbly accepting our sin, apologizing and confessing, and repenting that God receives glory in our restored relationships. This is the redemptive power of the Gospel—that it is possible to loosen the stranglehold that pride has on us and allow more of God’s grace to flow to us and through us by humbling ourselves and admitting our wrongdoing.
“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
Submit Yourself to God
God tells us to humbly expose our sin and we shall find healing (James 5:16). This might look different in various circumstances. However, in some cases, a simple ‘I’m sorry’ is all it takes to decimate relational conflicts. Saying sorry displays an understanding of one’s misdoing, the motivation to do better, and to be better.
Saint, if you have a relational conflict(s), consider this an invitation to submit yourself to God, resist the devil, and watch him flee from you (James 4:7) by apologizing, pursuing, and living peaceably with all, as far as it depends on us.