Some people live in constant conflict. They move from emotional crisis to emotional crisis and from conflict with one person to another throughout their lives. They are in constant conflict with themselves and continually try to pull others into the conflict. They say they desire peace, but because of the years of continual strife and confusion, they have become fearful of peace and a type of codependency develops with the conflict. Friends and family who are drawn into these conflicts unknowingly become enablers and with each conflict, the pattern of destruction becomes more entrenched.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. God’s plan is for all Christians to live their lives peaceably without conflict. That does not mean that we will never be in conflict with the devil. The enemy will always look for opportunities to attack God’s people physically, financially, and emotionally. We are to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), which is simply to believe God’s Word is true and act on what God says.
However, there should never be conflict and fighting between the children of God. God’s family should always dwell in harmony, contentment, and peace. Of course, this does not mean that we should ignore discipline and allow others to abuse us. We must stand up for what is right, but there are those within the body of Christ who seem to be in constant turmoil and who appear to not want to change.
The question is how do we deal with those fellow Christians who live in constant conflict with others – people who continually stir up strife in their own lives and in the lives of others?
The first thing a person must do in answering any question is go to the Word of God and see what He says to do. First and foremost, God’s Word teaches that we must love and forgive. Love is not an emotion, but a fruit of the Spirit and the way we love each other is the way that the world will know we are Christians. (John 13:35.) Love establishes who we are, and forgiveness establishes our relationship with God. In Mark 11:25-26, we are told that if we have anything against anyone, we are to forgive them. If we don’t, God will not forgive us and our relationship with Him will be broken.
Now, with this foundation of love and forgiveness firmly established, we find Romans 16:17 says, “I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” The next verse tells us that these people who cause divisions and offenses can have flattering words and appear to be righteous.
Naturally, as Christians, we are to love and forgive. But there are those who seem to never change, even though they have been loved and forgiven over and over again. They never repent but continue to cause division and strife everywhere they go. Interestingly, this division and strife is not centralized. Like a cancer, it spreads through their families, the workplace, and the church. Because they won’t repent, nothing ever changes, and life becomes miserable for them and everyone around them.
Over the years, I have known many critical and offensive people. Some of them have repented and gone on to live lives that were full of joy and peace. Others refuse correction. Because of their pride, and their belief that they were not the problem, they have continued to live sad lives in constant conflict. They are full of misery and hurt, believing that everyone else has caused them to not fulfill their own potential and dreams in life.
So we are brought back to our original question. How do you deal with offended people living in constant conflict?
Of course, we love and minister to them as we are guided by the Holy Spirit. And for the ones who come to their senses and repent, who turn away from strife, conflict, bickering, and murmuring, you receive them into fellowship.
According to the Word, however, those who will not submit to the ministry of peace and continue to create turmoil should be avoided. There are many issues that will determine the degree to which you can do this. Working conditions or family associations all factor into it. Still, to the degree that you can, you should do your best to associate with wise people who walk in sound doctrine and love, and avoid those who don’t.
How can you tell if a person in conflict has repented? The answer to that is quite simple. The conflict will cease. Jesus said that a tree would be known by its fruit (Luke 6:44).
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. (Proverbs 13:20)
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)