Conflict in our homes is inevitable … why? Well, because our homes are filled with sinful people, this dad included. The thing that makes conflict so hard is that when our response is sinful and selfish, which is my natural response, the problem usually snowballs. Before we know it, we’re standing knee deep in the cold words we wish we’d never said and old memories we wish we hadn’t revisited.

Have you guys been there? I know I have.

The reality is that every single person in your home has an anger problem, we just express it in different ways. Whether you go to DEFCON 1, aiming all of your weaponry poised to strike, or lie in waiting, using the cold-war tactics hidden beneath the surface and plan your enemy’s demise … we all land somewhere on the anger spectrum — we all have an anger problem.

So what’s at the root of the conflict?

James 4:1-3 reveals to us that in all conflict the real issue stems from the passions that war within us. James says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” It is interesting to note that the desire itself isn’t always wrong, it’s the way we go about it and to what ends we seek to use it. Notice also that the text says that we “do not have, because we do not ask.” The person seeking to satisfy their desire is seeking to take something, rather than receiving it!

In conflict, man’s anger is a vicious cycle of taking, defending, protecting or boasting — all with a focus on myself as the sole provider. Oftentimes, when we get angry we’re personally exacting a legal assessment on the situation we’re in and the other people involved. The courts come to bare on the situation, and we place ourselves in the seat as judge, jury and executioner. But the sad reality is … no one gets out clean!

Being a peace-maker is breaking that cycle.

Recognize and turn away from the selfish cycle of your own anger. Stop and recount that everything you have comes from God as a gracious gift (James 1:17). It only takes one person to bring God back into the situation … so ask yourself, “Is this a good desire? And, if so, can I trust God to bring it about?” Likewise, ask yourself, “Could their desire (the one whom I’m in conflict with) be a good desire? And, if so, can we trust God to bring that about as well?”

A few verses down in that passage from James chapter 4, it says this, “But He (God) gives more grace.” In conflict, cleave to Christ! Let mercy break into the cycle of sin where there is none —mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13). Peace-makers recognize their own need for mercy and their own lack of understanding, humbling themselves to recognize that what we need is not something to be taken ourselves but that which is received as a gracious gift. If it is God’s will we are seeking together, will He not help your family establish it (Proverbs 16:9)?

Andy Bowen

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