In Relational Conflict, Part 1
From the series I Choose Peace
Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you.” Very likely, when we pray, peace is often what we ask for - peace in the world, peace at home, and maybe most of all, peace in our relationships - but what did Jesus mean when He said His peace? And how could that make a difference in our problem relationships today? If you or someone you know is struggling with a difficult relationship this message is for you.
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About this series
I Choose Peace
How to Quiet Your Heart in the Chaos of Life
Why is it that as soon as we get that house, that job, that car, that, "you-fill-in-the-blank," the shine wears off so quickly - the horizon just keeps moving, and we never really experience peace? In this series, Chip unmasks a vicious opponent that's constantly poised to steal our peace and create an all-consuming discontent. If you’re ready for a spiritual journey of adventure and an intimacy with God like you’ve never known before, this series, from Philippians, Chapter 4, is the road map you're looking for.More from this series
The title of this series is called I Choose Peace because peace is a gift and it’s a choice. And you can have it if you have never had it, but here is what I can also tell you, as a follower of Jesus, I experience that peace and I have actually figured out ways to quench it so I don’t experience it.
With that said, you’ll notice on your notes there are three approaches or what I would say, there are three sources of peace. And I mean this by sources – when I say what I am going to say, don’t think everything is terrible or wrong with a couple of these things. There are some great skills, but as a source.
In other words, one source in our day would be: peace is within you. You just need to discover it. It’s inward. Key words would be meditation, relaxation, you need to center. Okay? And that the peace is your harmony with the cosmos, but where you need to look for peace is within.
The second source we are told about peace is outward. Words like achieve, conquer, control, perform.
In other words, the peace is out there. You need to accomplish this, conquer that. You need to get into a good school, get great grades, find the right person, get a great job, live in a nice home, drive a nice car, achieve certain things, have a certain amount of money. And somehow, someday, as you do all those things and you achieve and conquer and perform then your desires and your circumstances will align and then someday you’ll have peace.
That’s the Western way, the American way. The first is more Eastern. Now, don’t get me wrong. Are there some good things we learn about maybe breathing to take away stress or stretching or are there goals that we learn from achieving and growing? But I’m talking about the source.
A movie came out and it told the story of the richest man in the world at the time: J. Paul Getty. And the story of the movie, I think it’s called – I didn’t get to watch it but I read the review – it’s called All the Money in the World. And in 1973, he was the richest person in the world.
He was bringing in about, the oil business alone, twenty million a day. And the story goes on of a man who is consumed with money. He had five divorces and it’s interesting, near the end of his life – if the outward could deliver, this guy has everything.
At the end of his life, they said, “Do you have any regrets?” He said, “I have two.” He was not on speaking terms with his children. “I would give all the money,” think of that, “all the money away tomorrow for one good marriage and personal peace in my heart.”
You can’t buy those, can you? But even as followers of Christ, you can not experience those.
The third is the upward. It’s words like trust, depend, abide; words like faith and love and obey. You see, the peace of God isn’t some ethereal something that you can discover with alignment. It’s not achieving things. Peace is actually a person. Jesus said, “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, but My peace I give to you.”
In other words, when I turned – I didn’t know this happened – from my sin and I invited Christ to come into my life and forgive me, He takes up residence and He seals me by His Spirit and the person of Jesus in the person of the Holy Spirit lives in you and there is a control and a goodness and a calm.
In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…for those who don’t know…love, joy, peace. So, as I am abiding, whether circumstances are up or down, relationships good or bad, the stock market goes north or south there is a supernatural peace, the Bible says, that transcends understanding, that He will keep you in perfect peace as your mind is stayed on Him because you trust Him.
That’s what we are talking about. When the world or the dictionary defines peace, it’s usually the absence of things. Notice, I put the definition in your notes. It’s the absence of disturbance and hostility; it’s free from internal and external strife.
In other words, we think peace is just, it’s calm. We are just getting along. There is no big thing out there or there is no big conflict within here.
The word peace and the kind of peace we are going to learn about and choose and enjoy is a peace that is not just the external or just the internal – it’s something that God adds. The Hebrew word is shalom. And we know it means peace. But the word shalom is way, way bigger.
There are four aspects of shalom. First, it’s the complete soundness or wholeness of health. It’s a peace of your mind, your body, and your emotions. Second, it’s harmony in relationships. You have shalom in your marriage, shalom with your neighbors, you have shalom at work, you have shalom with the body of Christ.
Third, it’s success or progress with your purpose. In other words, there’s great peace in: I was made to do this. I am in line with the Creator of what He made me to do and I have ups and downs, but I am doing it. And there’s a peace.
There are people that spend their whole life wondering, Should I be in this job? Should we really live here? Should I do that? There’s no peace. And there’s the FOMO. There’s always the fear of missing out so, Maybe I should be doing this. Oh, maybe I should be doing this. Oh! Maybe I should be doing this. And you have this acid going around.
Peace may be the greatest thing God could ever give you and if you’re a follower, you have it. It’s a choice. In fact, the shalom is victory over your enemies. It’s that God will protect you. Jesus’ last words on the last night, He said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you; I do not give as the world gives.”
And then what a great line for us, the world where it’s at, “Do not let your heart be troubled; don’t be afraid.”
“Let not your heart be troubled.” Could I – don’t look at anybody right now. But could I just ask you to ask yourself: Is your heart troubled? For real. Are you afraid? Do you find yourself watching the news or hearing information or worried about your job or convinced in your mind you’re never going to get married, or convinced that the marriage you have is never going to be any good, or – right?
You understand, you can live your whole life with a supernatural peace as a follower of Christ, available, and not choose it. And so, we are going to go through the five things that rob us of our peace in Philippians chapter 4. And the first one is conflict in a relationship.
There’s a question on the bottom of the page. See, this could end up a seminar. And you could be, “Oh, this is really interesting information and I took Psych201 and there are a lot of principles where and, oh, this is really good.” No, no, no, no, this isn’t a seminar.
Here’s the deal: who in your relational network are you at odds with? If you had to come up with a person – a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister, one of your kids, a roommate, a neighbor, a fellow worker. If there is someone that you could just whisper, Oh God.
Because, some of them, they are so in the past and we push it down. It was a brother-in-law, it’s an ex-mate, there are issues. And what happens is you don’t deal with poison and hostility and lack of relationship health – bad stuff happens to your stomach and your migraines and your soul. And we are going to walk through a process that the Bible will give about how to get peace when you have relational conflict.
So, I want you to think about: who would you really like to have peace with? Who would you like to say, whoo – as far as it depends on you. I’m not saying that there’s reconciliation and everything is going to be wonderful. But as far as it depends on you.
Who? Because I want you to listen through the lens of that person. Now, for some of you, it’s your mate and they are not here. And your first thought is, Well, I wish they were here, because he really needs to hear this, or, She really needs to hear this.
Because, like me, ninety-five percent of all my relational problems are someone else’s fault. Right? Honest, that’s how we think.
What you have in Philippians chapter 4 in the context is this: there is a man in prison named the apostle Paul. There’s a church that he loves deeply. He has been in prison there, a church grew, there’s a deep connection, God did amazing things.
And now there are some struggles in the church. Some people at the end of chapter 3 are drifting away from the Lord. There is some conflict, we are going to find, with people within the church. And he loves them. He so loves them and he wanted to remind them there is hope and there is persecution – even in the midst of this world.
And he reminded them at the end of chapter 3 that, you know what? Jesus really is coming back. There is a heaven that is real.
There is a reality that the only sure hope in the world that we live in is laying hold of our citizenship really is in heaven. But we are to live out this life dramatically different on earth.
And so, he talked about that. And now he’s going to say it’s more than just your individual life walking faithfully with God. He says there is a relationship problem, there’s a relational conflict and he is going to address it.
In verse 1, what I want you to listen for is his heart. Ask yourself, Is he mad? Is he angry? Is this God saying, “Get with the program”? Verse 1, “Therefore, my brothers in whom I love and I long for, my joy and my crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.”
Would you circle the word in your notes love, long for, joy, crown? And would you put a box around stand firm?
He is saying: we have this hope. We have this peace. God so loves us He wants us to walk this out together. So, I love you and I care for you and what I am about to say, I’m not down on anyone. But when you don’t experience, corporately or individually, the peace that God has already granted, it breaks my heart – is sort of the spirit.
And he says: the way you stand firm is you know where you’re going and you have this hope.
And now he’s going to have a request or, literally, a plea of two ladies that are not getting along. “I plead with you, Euodia, and plead with you, Syntyche, to agree with each other in the Lord.” Circle the word to agree. It’s a very interesting Greek word. It means to be of the same mind, to think the same thoughts.
What we know, we are going to learn, is both of these are really good women. This isn’t a good person and a bad person. What we know from this context, it’s not a moral issue, it’s not a doctrinal issue. But we have two powerhouse people in this local church who have been greatly used of God, and something has happened that they are not getting along.
And when key people in a small group, key people in a house called a mom or a dad, two roommates – whatever it is – when you don’t get along with someone, what does it do? It affects other people.
So, he has a plea in verse 3. He says, “Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women,” would you circle the word help? Sometimes in relational conflict, no matter what you do, it doesn’t get better. You need help.
And then, who are these woman? “These women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, and whose names are in the book of life.”
We learn two things about these women. One, they have contended. He is saying: my right hand; my left hand. These are women that prayed and fasted and gave and we were in the midst of persecution and that little church got birthed and, man, I love them both and they are great people. There is no bad person here.
In fact, I am absolutely certain their names are written in the book of life. So, but, they can’t get along. The phrase here: loyal yokefellows – actually, a proper name – Syzygos. But since no one can pronounce it, including me, many translators take the meaning of the name, which is a loyal yokefellow. And the word literally means someone that can take two oxen and have them be in harmony and walk together.
And what he is saying is: Hey, we’ve got a problem. We’ve got a problem in our small group, got a problem in our church, we’ve got a problem in our family. These people are at each other, they have resentment, they have hurt, it’s affecting the church. I am asking someone competent, can you sit down with them? Probably someone with the gift of exhortation and a wise counselor, and can you help them?
And then in verse 4, he gives a command concerning the relational focus. Because, when there is conflict, what do you do? Who do you think about all the time? You think about this person, right? You’re driving in your car and you have anger fantasies. She did that, she did that, you replay it in your mind, she said that, he did that, I can’t believe that. He thinks he’s a supervisor. He couldn’t code worth a…and then you say that bad about me? That’s unbelievable.
And, What is she thinking? Her in-laws, every time they come, she’s depressed for three weeks afterward. It’s not a good idea. And, Gosh, yeah right, okay. I bring up one more time, “We don’t have sex as often as I would like and she blows up and…” Have I hit enough people yet? Is this real stuff? This is real stuff. This is how life works.
And he says, and so what you do is you get fixated. You have – and you might have ninety percent of your relationship with this person is good but, man, this is…once you get fixated on this, then you know what? They go from being a disagreement to a bad person. You demonize them. “That supervisor? I remember ten years ago, he made another mistake. I think this whole company is in trouble because of that guy and he is my boss,” right? “She said that – she grew up that way – I remember…”
And all of a sudden, you take all the dots of your relational hurt and you rearrange them and they are the bad person and you’re like me: it’s five percent our fault, ninety-five percent their fault.
And then you harden your heart. And so, here’s the command – it’s a command, by the way. “Rejoice in the Lord; and again I’ll say, rejoice!” You know what he’s saying? Get vertical! Get off of them and the problem. He is saying this one not only to the two ladies, but to the whole church. Because when there’s a fight, what do we do? “I’m on Euodia’s side.” “I’m on Syntyche’s side.” In a family, even the kids, “Ooh, mom, dad, mom. Gosh, well, I guess…” Right? In a small group; at work.
Because the one thing we don’t do is we often don’t obey Scripture and we have a problem with a person, what we do is we find two or three people that usually agree with us.
Just go to a coffee shop sometime and act like you have your phones on. And just listen to everybody. Just listen to everybody. It’s really fun, to tell you the truth. And eighty percent of the conversations, “Well, I don’t know what he’s thinking. He plays golf three times a week.” “And my supervisor, I think he’s on drugs and…” Right? You go to coffee, people are talking about someone else.
And what does it do? Gasoline on the fire.