The Heart of Conflict

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk. 16:14-15)

Don’t you hate it when you see a little “pharisee” in yourself? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could simply renounce old habits and selfish behavior and respond to conflict in a gracious and constructive way? Let’s face it, as conflict arises peace is stolen and replaced by a spirit of strife! It’s not an easy task – staying clear of conflict. In order to break free and stay free, we need to understand why we react to conflict the way we do.

Its an Issue of the Heart!

Jesus provides us with clear guidance on this issue!

During His earthly ministry, a young man approached and asked Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute with his brother. “Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Lk. 12:13-15).

Recognize the Traps:

This passage reveals a common human pattern. When faced with conflict, be on guard against all kinds of greed. Greed lives on the inside of us! We tend to focus passionately on what our opponent has done wrong or should do to make things right. In contrast, God always calls us to focus on what is going on in our own hearts when we are at odds with others. Why? Because our heart is the wellspring of all our thoughts, words, and actions, and therefore the source of our conflicts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19).

The Heart’s Central Role in Conflict:

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (Jms. 4:1-3)

Conflicts arise from unmet desires in the heart – greed! When we feel we cannot be satisfied unless we have something we want or think we need, then that desire turns into a demand called greed. If someone fails to meet that desire – we judge, condemn and quarrel. We fight to get our way. Conflict arises when desires grow into demands and we judge and fight with those who get in our way.

But the Heart has Power:

Love, honor & trust… these are words of worship! These are the words that overcome conflict when they are positioned perfectly in the heart of a fervent believer. Jesus calls us to love God, honor God, and trust God… and God Alone! (Mt. 22:37)(Lk. 12:4-5)(Jn. 14:1) Worship is a powerful tool to overcoming conflict… its an attitude of the heart!

Anytime we cherish, fear, or trust in something more than God, to make us happy; it is the worship of false gods… “idolatry”.

I know it sounds harsh, but greed is idolatry and it has levels of influence. It often goes unrecognized until we are knee deep into a quarrel. The quarrel itself is just a symptom of a deeper issue. That’s when we find ourselves wondering, “how did we even get into that mess!” Well, something was sitting in the heart waiting to be defended.

But, when our focus is on worship – rejoicing in Christ, walking in gentleness and prayerfully considering everything that gets in our way; then the believer has a greater platform of self-control. Greed and idolatry are diffused of their control and the heart is guarded by the peace of God that goes beyond our understanding (Phil. 4:4-7).

Delight Yourself in God!

Find your greatest joy in thinking about your loving Heavenly Father, meditating on His works, talking to others about Him, praising Him, and giving Him thanks for all that He has done. Delight yourself in Jesus and look into His eyes by faith, consistently and longing for His mercies to become fresh every morning. Wait on the Holy Spirit and listen before you speak… there might be a divine appointment in that moment of hesitation. Consider these powerful promises as spiritual keys to avoiding conflict.

  • “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4)
  • “My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long.” (Ps. 71:8)
  • “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

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