How to Argue for the Glory of God
Sin loves to rear its ugly head in relationships. No matter how far we progress in our Christian walk, we’ll never be out of Mr. Conflict's reach. Even the saintly apostle Paul had his moments. It is true that not all conflict is bad. And it is also true that good can come out of conflict. But most arguments are destructive, aimed at overpowering the other person instead of working towards a resolution.
When the Bible says: “Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31) it means what it says. All of life is to be to the glory of God, so that includes our conflicts. But how do we argue for the glory of God? Here are some key concepts that can move us in the right direction.
If you’re in the habit of communicating well, you’ve already won half the battle. It is not only a preventative measure against conflict, it serves you well in conflict. Talk (Prov. 15:1). Don’t pout or internalize. Speak. Share your thoughts, your feelings. If you’re too angry, take a break but come back to the conversation. When you refuse to talk it suggests that you’re not interested enough in the relationship.
2. Be patient
We’ve all been guilty of making a mountain out of molehill. We get hung up on trivial things. We're called to bear with one another (Eph. 4:2). Love is patient (1 Cor. 13:4). We don’t have to confront someone every time we’re sinned against. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). And it is a virtue to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11). We must not let our ego get in the way.
3. Stick to the truth/Truth
Many conflict torn families and churches can track the origin of their conflict back to the infamous words: “I heard that…” or “Someone told me that…”. The content of conflict should be facts, not hearsay (Prov. 26:22), impressions or negative vibes. When in doubt ask the person: “It seemed you were irritated with me, or was that simply my impression?” The issue at stake should be the violation of the Truth, the Word of God or the Gospel and not my pet peeves or preferences.
4. Evaluate yourself
Most Christians don’t have a problem admitting their sin generally. We know too well we’re not. But Jesus asks us to own up our sin specifically. I have a beam lodged in my eye. What is it? (Mat. 7:3-5)? I first need to locate and name my contribution to the conflict before I can ever be trusted with your part. Before anything else is said I need to ask forgiveness first.
5. Confront wisely
Most people don’t like confrontation and some absolutely hate it; they rather undergo surgery. But systematically sweeping things under the carpet is wrong. Ignoring the problem makes matters worse. It will fester and come back with a vengeance. When should you confront a person? When you’ve been sinned against and you can’t let it go because it’s too big of an issue. How should you confront? At the right time and with the right attitude (Gal. 6:10).
6. Ask humbly for forgiveness and forgive generously
Apologizing is good, but not good enough. It acknowledges the harm but it leaves things open-ended. “Sorry” is fine for accidents but doesn’t cut it when it’s sin. It’s too easy. Asking for forgiveness is painful. Granting forgiveness may be even harder. But we must. In light of all that God has forgiven us, we can’t withhold forgiveness “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive” (Col. 3:13; see also Mat. 18:21-35). It is always wrong to hold a grudge (Heb. 12:15).
7. Above all else, love
We may be good at conflict resolution, but if we don’t have love, we don’t have much. It is our love for God and for one another that will make the difference. Love motivates and moves us to reconciliation. Love is more than fuzzy feelings. They may even be absent in the moment. It’s a commitment to do the right thing, even or especially, when it is really hard (Joh. 14:15).
We can't argue for the glory of God if we don’t feed daily on the Gospel. We must drink daily from His well of grace, receiving His power and forgiveness.