Saturday, August 20, 2011

Biblical Principles for Handling Conflict

I was intrigued when I recently received an email offer to purchase a short book (173 pages) by Alexander Strauch entitled “If You Bite & Devour One another” (ISBN 978-093608331-5). Having previously profited from Pastor Strauch’s more than 40 years of ministry experience and wisdom contained in some of his other books, I was quick to plunk down the $10 and place my order. When the book arrived, I found it to be both thorough and practical. The first three chapters provide a biblical foundation for handling conflict between Christians by emphasizing Spirit-controlled living, our duty to express Biblical love, and the necessity for humility. The remaining seven chapters deal with specific principles for handling conflict. Included among those principles are things like controlling our tongue, controlling criticism, pursuing reconciliation, and pursuing peace.

Under the chapter on peace-making, Strauch makes the following insightful comment, “Each member is responsible for the peace and unity of the local church. Each individual makes a difference as to the outcome of any conflict in the church” (pg. 112). How true that is! How much less conflict would there be in the local church if all of us were to take these words to heart and prayerfully intervene when friends, family members or even acquaintances begin to grumble against others in the fellowship. But, instead, many of us simply turn our heads and walk away, not wanting to get involved.

This book is designed for personal or group study and the publisher has enhanced its usefulness by making available a free study guide consisting of application questions for each chapter in a PDF format. Two helpful indices (Scripture & persons) round out the work and make it easy to find quotes or cross references after the fact. Brethren, it would be a good idea to spiritually arm yourself by reading this book before the next time you find yourself disagreeing with your brother or sister in Christ – the unity of God’s church may well hang in the balance.

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