Last week, Steve and I hosted Cousins Camp for our 8 oldest grandkids. The kids range in age from 7-13. Overall the camp went well. We did all the things: biking, hiking, capture the flag with water balloons, a slip and slide, the 4th of July Parade, and devotions together. Most of the days everyone got along famously; however, towards the end when the kids were tired, there were a few conflicts. I suppose conflict is inevitable. As I was thinking back over Cousins Camp, I got to thinking; it’s the same with us adults. In any close relationship, conflict is inevitable.
In his letter to the believers living in Rome, Paul gave a few relationship tips that, if followed, will help during conflict. Paul wrote, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). He went on to talk about enduring in unity, writing, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6). What does that look like in our lives when we hold different opinions and positions on everything from raising kids to politics to theology?
As I’ve been reflecting on these thoughts this week, here are a few suggestions:
Keep Christ Central. In your conflicts, pause and consider, what does it look like to reflect Jesus well? Keep Him central in your life and in your relationships. Keep Him the main thing. As believers, we will differ on all manner of theological issues. It’s fine to disagree and hold different opinions, however, Jesus was pretty clear: He called us to love one another and to honor one another (Romans 12:10). Rather than accusing and bashing, consider what it looks like to encourage and elevate. Lift others up with your words.
Offer Acceptance. Paul wrote that we are to “accept one another” (Romans 15:7). What does acceptance look like? When you accept each other you simply allow the other person to be themselves. You offer freedom and don’t try to force your opinion on them. We can get all fired up about all manner of things, can’t we? What does it look like to simply accept the other person? It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.
Pray Together and for Each Other. Just the other day I had coffee with two dear friends. Each of us shared the highs and lows of the last few months. We shared what we felt excited and discouraged about. And then we committed to pray for each other and one of us prayed out loud right then and there. I left that time of coffee feeling refreshed and revived. We were not meant to do life alone. Even though, at times, you will encounter conflict, make it a practice to pray for and with those whom you are in relationships with. As we pray for each other, our hearts are united in the Holy Spirit. This is why Paul asked the believers in Rome to pray for him (Romans 15:31).
Friend, we need each other. We cannot allow division to corrupt our relationships. Satan will try to divide us in every way, but as we commit to keeping Christ central, offer acceptance for each other’s views, and pray for each other, we will be able to glorify God with one mind and mouth.
Lord Jesus, You know that at times unity in my relationships is challenging. At times, I feel tired, frustrated, or frazzled. Help me in those moments to remember to prioritize my relationships by keeping Christ central and offering acceptance even when I disagree. Lord, may I be faithful in praying fervently for those with whom I am in close relationship. I ask You now to fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that my desires are the same as Christ’s, who prayed for us, “that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:23).
One way to cultivate your relationships is to gather a few friends and dive into Rooted Joy. This short study can be done as a weekend Girlfriend Gathering or as a 4-week Bible study.
This week on the Connected Mom Podcast we are doing an encore edition of our conversation with Alicia Michelle about letting go of perfectionism in motherhood. Be sure to listen and, hey, would you share the episode with a friend?