God's Grace Compels Us to Pursue Holiness in Relationships.

When resolving conflict between Christians, these three areas are necessary to consider: identity, growth, and humanity. Anyone in Christ must be viewed from that vantage point; therefore, we must assume that spiritual growth is happening in their life. The Holy Spirit is never dormant.

The end goal of resolving conflict is unity in the Spirit for the progress of the Gospel.

A Repentant Attitude

Repentance is the sorrow of real change. This sorrow and the determination to see a relationship restored results in salvation from relational turmoil. It looks like 7 descriptors that Paul lists in 2 Corinthians 7:11.

  • "Innocent" has connotations of holiness.
  • "Earnest" means they were seriously seeking resolution without knowing what the response would be. This is the opposite of complacency, a strong desire.
  • "Vindication" shows the Corinthians wanted to clear their names and prove they had changed.
  • "Indignation" reflects a special hatred that develops for a certain sin that divided believers from one another. They never want to fall into that again.
  • "Fear" is a healthy reverence of our Creator. A fear of sin makes a person not want to grieve the Spirit again.
  • "Zeal" means to love something so much that you hate anything that hurts it. Christians are eager to defend their spiritual family members from anyone who speaks ill of them.
  • "Avenging" indicates a desire for justice that comes from the moral image of God in man.

Each word Paul uses has intentional meaning. "Behold" means "stop and look." This shows the priority of restoration. The Corinthians were excited to be restored to right relationship with Paul. The pain they felt at the separation demonstrated their salvation. Division in a relationship isolates people and should make them feel unsettled until it's resolved.

Face-to-face communication is usually necessary to restore a relationship. As in the case of the Corinthians and Paul, God sometimes uses a middleman. Regardless, for a relationship to be restored, someone has to initiate first and act in love. The same eagerness that the Corinthians demonstrated will compel this resolution.

Application Points

  • What attitude should we have when there is conflict between Christians? This demonstrates the authenticity of our salvation. Does your reaction to conflict reflect this?

  • When a relationship is separated, someone has to act in love first. God sometimes even uses "middlemen." If you are at odds with another believer or know of conflict in the body, what should you do?

  • Why do we resolve conflict with Christians – what is the end goal? Are you pursuing this with others?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 – addressing sin that divides within the church