Is there one person, more than any other, with whom you want to be at peace right now? A broken relationship you want to heal?
Maybe it’s a father who abandoned you as a child. Maybe it’s the child you abandoned. It might be a business partner who ripped you off, or a best friend who betrayed you. Or maybe it’s the person you love, but with whom you can’t communicate without strife.
If you thought you could resolve the relational conflict, would you try?
We all long for inner peace, for what the Bible describes as shalom. It’s a Hebrew term that suggests many wonderful things: (1) wholeness, whether mental, emotional, or physical; (2) work that fulfills, in line with how you were created; (3) righteous victory over opponents; and (4) harmony in relationships.
God is our source of shalom. He wants to heal your relational conflict. Do you believe that?
In the fourth chapter of his letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul gives us a picture of how we can find peace when it comes to relationships. Two women have had a falling out. They are spiritual leaders, colleagues of Paul, but for unknown reasons they are at odds with each other.
Paul directs his thoughts to an unnamed person, saying,
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:2-5).
Several ideas to note here. Perhaps the main one is this: Paul’s plea for unity is in the context of a bigger picture: “the cause of the gospel.” It’s not all about Euodia and Syntyche.
Your conflict has a greater circumstance than just your personal pain or disappointment, too.
Remember what Paul wrote two chapters earlier, in Philippians 2:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind…
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…” (Philippians 2:1-2,5-7).
You see, you don’t have to agree with the other person. You don’t have to deny the differences. You don’t even have to like each other. You just have to be of the same mind in the Lord. Putting the other person ahead of you, in love, with one goal: Honoring Christ.
But many broken relationships need outside help. When you’re trying to resolve something with someone and it escalates and there’s more tension, you need to call in “reinforcements” — third-party helpers, whether professional therapists or wise and well-trained brothers or sisters in the Lord.
But whatever the process, Paul makes it clear what the focus is: God Himself. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:5). Don’t make victory or your self-esteem the goal. Focus on the Lord.
One last thought. Paul writes, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5).
The word in this verse here goes way beyond one English definition. Think of a forbearance, reasonableness, geniality, considerateness, generosity. The term carries the thought of going beyond justice, going beyond the letter of the law. To be willing, to yield, to consider the other person’s perspective. To literally accept less than is your due. (Christ certainly did.)
Even if 95 percent is their fault, you take your five percent and own it in humility, because the relationship matters more than who is right and who is wrong.
Of course, I’m not speaking of unethical or immoral conflict. That’s another discussion.
So don’t procrastinate. Initiate. Reevaluate your expectations. Get help. Pray and trust God. Don’t let one broken relationship ruin your life. Find shalom!
To find out more about this topic, check out the series entitled I Choose Peace.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip