I need to admit to being somewhat reticent in answering this query. I say this because there are abusive structures and systems that use “biblical conflict resolution” to harm survivors. Rules described in Matthew 18 it could possibly be used to intimidate those that have been persecuted and force feigned forgiveness on those that are perpetually wounded.
But God tells us about conflict resolution. The place where biblical reconciliation at all times begins is within the Gospel of St Jesus Christ. We can pursue a real and lasting reconciliation with one another, respecting God, only when we’ve first been reconciled to God. This is where all reconciliation must begin.
James 4:1-2 it tells us where our fight against conflict is. David Powlison explains well:
“One of the thrill of Bible ministry is with the ability to activate a light-weight in another person’s dark room…I even have yet to satisfy a pair of introverted hostility (and accompanying fear, self-pity, hurt, self-righteousness) who truly understood and took their motives into consideration. James 4:1-3 teaches that cravings are at the basis of conflict. why are you fighting? It’s not “because my wife/husband…” – it’s due to something about you. Couples who see what drives them – the will for affection, attention, power, justification, control, comfort, trouble-free living – can repent and find God’s grace realized, after which learn the way to make peace.”
This helps us to first account for our own role in any conflict we can have. Matthew 7:3-5 explains that in any conflict it is nice to suspect and test ourselves first.
Reservation: When we’re talking about continuously sinning against ourselves, or when the balance of power is sort of even, that is sound advice. However, it’s probably not a very good query in case you’ve been a victim. For example, if someone has been sexually abused, asking questions on personal responsibility is irresponsible and harmful.
The same applies to places comparable to Matthew 18. This is an excellent verse to undergo interpersonal conflicts. It helps us know the way to seek reconciliation if we’ve been offended. As a general rule of thumb, after we are those against whom we’ve sinned, we should always undergo these steps, seek and pray for the repentance of the offender, and respond accordingly.
But it’s incorrect to make use of Matthew 18 as a club against someone who’s in an abusive relationship. Matthew 18 it isn’t intended to stipulate the steps a wife should take if her husband is abusing her. We cannot blame her for “not going to Him first.”
Yes, the Bible explains the way to resolve conflicts. But we must bear in mind the overall principle that there’s a conflict that we should always never reconcile with, and that may be a conflict with sin. Whenever we use the biblical principles of conflict to harm those that are vulnerable, we’re making peace with sin and putting ourselves at enmity with God. The Bible has much to say about conflict, and we might do well to think about the entire picture.
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