What was the worst fight you’ve ever had with someone? Could be a spouse, sibling, parent or co-worker? Were you in the right? How did you resolve it? If you were unable to resolve it, are you still in communication with this person? Why or why not?
Pastor Nithin was talking about the three phases in a relationship. What phase are you in right now?
Encourage your group members to think about their closest relationships (marriages if possible). However, if single, expand this circle. These phases happen in all relationships where we are emotionally invested.
Pastor Nithin shared three commitments to handle conflict.
- I will Talk, Not Walk.
- Even When it’s Tough, I will be Tender.
- I will Forgive as I’ve been Forgiven.
Which of these three do you have the hardest time doing? Why is that?
Some of the ways to initiate this discussion is to ask how the Family of Origin handled conflict? How was this modeled for you? What effect did it have on you? Start with your own family: for some, they grew up with their parents arguing over everything, so they swore they would never fight with their spouse and they don’t ever speak the “truth in love”, which is very unhealthy. For others, they want to talk about everything and fight to be “right,”. Ask what a healthy balance of resolving conflict would look like, and how the three commitments Pastor Nithin talked about can help.
Apply the Bible
Read Matthew 5: 21-26.
[Q] Who are the people subject to judgement in this passage?
Those that not only murder, but also those who get angry with others.
[Q] Verse 22 says, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Does anyone know what “Raca” means?
Raca means vain, empty, worthless, only found in Matthew 5:22 . The Jews used it as a word of contempt. It is derived from a root meaning “to spit.”
[Q] Why would Jesus say that if someone used the term ‘Raca’ be answerable in court?
In our culture, we don’t think much of of our anger or even calling people names. There is not much regard for people in our culture, everyone is fair game — just look at a show like Saturday Night Live and the skits about our President and other Leaders. Help your Group Members understand the higher calling of HOLINESS Jesus calls us to which Pastor Nithin discusses in his message. This may be a totally foreign concept for some in your Group. Even when we call someone a “fool” we are in danger of eternal damnation! Oh how thankful we should be for the shed blood of Jesus. You want to help your group members understand that on their BEST day, sin starts in our hearts and minds, and we are so thankful for Jesus’ unending supply of mercy and grace to us which washes us clean.
[Q] Compare the Matthew 5 passage with Ephesians 4:26 which says in your anger do not sin. What do you think the distinction?
In the passage in Matthew, the anger has led to an action. That action were words that were essentially killing the soul and esteem of others. In James, he says that you can be angry and not sin. You can be angry and find healthy ways to express anger without using name calling or verbal abuse. Try to press your group here – what is a distinction between righteous anger and sinful anger? [It could be our anger towards abuse towards children or injustice in our society.] The more we think and pray about it though, very little of our anger is ‘righteous’. Mostly, if we are honest, our anger is ‘self-righteous’, meaning we get angry when we are insulted or hurt in some way. Once again, we point people to the Cross of Christ and His marvelous love and grace for us!
[Q] Read James 3:1-12. James talks about Taming the Tongue. How does this relate to Matthew 5 & 18 and conflict in relationships?
James helps us see the power of the tongue to build up people or tear them down. As we said in Matthew 5, cutting people down with our tongues (in gossip behind their backs or to their faces) is far from holiness.
[Q] Is there anyone that you need to make things right with? What keeps you from making things right? How can broken relationships impede our worship?
The passage is clear. Our horizontal relationships impact our vertical relationships. Share with the group if there are any relationships that need to be put right in order for you to be right with God. The passage suggests that some go so far as to leave the worship service to make things right with people before they worship. As the leader, you can go first and help model healthy conflict resolution to the group. Feel free to share where you didn’t do a good job, it helps to learn from successes and failures. The Holy Spirit may word right in your Group as He convicts the heart! Help people pray a prayer of repentance and remind them that Jesus makes all things new! What a privilege that would be!Read Matthew 18: 15-17. This passage is in the context of Church discipline, or how we deal with misconduct in the church. But there are principles in this passage that we can apply in personal conflict resolution. While this is meant to be used with other believers, there are principles that we can use with anyone.
[Q] In this passage, Jesus introduces us the entire process where we can resolve conflict. What is the process the Jesus outlines in how to resolve conflict?
First, go to the person one on one. If they listen to you, you’ve won over your brother.
Second, if they still don’t listen, take two or three others with you to win them over.
Third, If they still don’t listen take the issue to a group of other believers.
Fourth, if they still don’t listen then they should be treated like an unbeliever.
Try to tease this out with your Group Members. Often, we jump to the 4th step and say, “I can’t deal with this person!” We avoid them and refuse to have anything to do with them. While there may be people who are not safe and we have to put boundaries to protect ourselves, as followers of Jesus, we should do all we can to reconcile with others, especially those in the Body of Christ. Leaders – this may be eye-opening to members of your Group! Ask if they have unresolved conflict with others and how you as a Group can pray for those relationships. [It may not be directly with them, but with other family members or friends, and be heartbreaking for them. We hear all of the time of family members who refuse to speak to one another. Take time even during the Group to pray over these. ]
[Q] Often we are tempted when in conflict with someone to talk with others about it rather than to the person. This is called triangulation. Why is this a bad strategy? Has this happened to you? How did it feel? Have you done this in certain situations? How did it resolve? How can you avoid this?
Triangulation is sin. Because rather than taking the issue with the person in question, you talk with others. This is gossip. The best way to handle conflict is to deal with the person respectfully and directly. If you have an issue with someone, make every effort to connect with them to discuss how it should be handled. We are trying to help our Group Members see the destructive nature of unhealthy conflict and not speaking the truth in love [Ephesians 4:15]. Encourage them to learn this very important skill even if you have to role play this with them.
[Q] Why is important to try to resolve things one on one before taking things to a larger group?
When you resolve things one on one it is more intimate. The issue doesn’t go any further than between you and the person that has offended you. When it has to go to the next level, it becomes more public and more people weigh into the issue, ultimately affecting the reputation of that person. Going back to Matthew 5 where Jesus calls this into harsh judgment.
[Q] Can you share an example with the group where this has worked for you? Or if you tried this method and it didn’t work. If you never used this method, how have you normally handled conflict?
Leaders go first! Take the time to share with your group when you used this model to resolve conflict. If you’ve never done that, share with the group why not. Most people have a flight or fight response to conflict. Either they will run from conflict, or they will run towards it. The model that Jesus gives us requires courage to approach others, but the sensitivity to take it step by step.
Since the topic of the week is conflict in relationships. Go around and ask your group how we can pray over conflict situations they themselves are going through or people they know who are experiencing conflict. After everyone shares, have the group pray for the person on their right if they feel comfortable doing so.
Chance to Serve
Consider serving during Parents Night Out. This event is hosted once a month at our Mountainside and Parsippany campuses. During this event parents can drop their kids off for three hours of child care. Take the time to help bless our special needs parents. Serve on your own or serve with your group. For other opportunities check out the Liquid serve site.
After James talks about Taming the Tongue and the passage below on Conflict, He talks about wisdom. Have someone read James 3: 13-18.
[Q] Where does Godly wisdom come from? How is it different than worldly wisdom?
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James talks about worldly wisdom in this way: But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. The key difference if is “selfish ambition”.
Read James 4: 1-3. James is asking the question of what causes conflict. In today’s message, Pastor Nithin touched on two topics Unmet Expectations and self-centeredness. How does James affirm these root causes and expand them?
It is important for your Group to see the context of these passages. James makes connections between the taming of the tongue, selfish ambition and conflict! Help your group makes these connections! James mentions that the root cause is our evil desires which come out of self-centeredness. He then expands these categories by including coveting and killing (relate this back to Matthew 5) . All of this stems from our evil desires not godly ones.
What does covetousness look like in your life? How can this be deadly for a believer?
This can be a personal answer. In today’s world, social media has created a culture of FOMO (fear of missing out) as well as comparison. People scroll through images on instagram, snapchat and facebook and will compare vacations, bodies, jobs, and lifestyles to the images they see on the screen. This can be deadly because we are no longer following the path God has set before us, but are looking to others for affirmation and identity.
What is the reason why we don’t receive answers to our prayers?
We ask with the wrong motives.
How can we examine whether our motives are God honoring or honor our own pleasure?
This requires us to ask the hard questions. Why do we want what we want? We can ask our spouse, small group or friends these questions and they will tell us the answers. We may have a hard time with what we hear, but if we are teachable, we will find that what they tell us will actually be a source of growth. Taking time as a believer for self-examination is incredibly important for the purposes of knowing what your motives are. Listen to the Holy Spirit and He’ll show you what you need to change.