Counselee: “My wife doesn’t respect me.”
Me: “Why do you think you’re not easy to respect?”
Counselee: “What does this have to do with me?”
Counselee: “My parents are such idiots!”
Me: “You know, I don’t think the Lord’s glorified when you talk about your parents that way. ”
Counselee: “You’re just like my parents! Why’s it always my fault?!”
Friend: “When you’re talking with atheists, it doesn’t do any good to quote the Bible to them.”
Me: “Well, I don’t see any other options. God says His Word is powerful and effective. My human reasoning won’t sway them if His Word doesn’t.”
Friend: “Yeah, I don’t think it works.”
Me: “Maybe you need to reconsider the sufficiency of the Scripture. What’s God been teaching you in His Word recently?”
Friend: “Why does this have to be about me?”
Of course, you realize that few conversations actually work this quickly. Wisdom dictates that it take a bit longer to get from the first observation to the last.
Still, over the past ten years of family counseling I can’t remember a single situation where a counselee was perfectly innocent within a conflict. There wasn’t a single man who hadn’t provoked his children to wrath or not lived with his wife according to knowledge. I never counseled a wife who’d submitted to her husband and loved her children consistently. And – believe it or not – I never met a child who honored and obeyed his parents without fault.
They all had grievances, they all had mental fingers to point, they all had emotional subpoenas to deliver, they all had judgment to bear down . . . but they all had responsibility too. Each train-wrecked relationship was partially their doing. Each argument was of their own making.
The same goes for me.
And the same goes for you.
When there’s a Conflict, we’re ALL to Blame.
James 4;1-2 tells us that conflict arises because we want something and don’t get it.
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.”
If I’m angry, annoyed, or aggravated, I’m to blame.
Luke 12:13-21 gives us a glimpse into the way Jesus handled a situation just like this:
“Someone in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ Then He said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.’ And He told them a parable . . . .“
This guy comes to Christ hoping that Jesus will tell off his loser brother. Clearly the brother was being unloving and selfish, but instead of acknowledging the brother’s sinful choices, Jesus told a parable demonstrating that the guy in the crowd had a problem with greed.
Jesus even did this when the person before him wasn’t complaining about someone else. When two of his disciples sent their mother to tell Jesus “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” Jesus pointed out that their lusts caused them to miss the very important fact that while they were worried about their will, Christ was focused on supremacy of His Father.
The woman at the well tried to distract Jesus with racial and religious arguments, but He reminded her that she needed true religion.
Peter, trying to speak for God, rebuked Jesus for suggesting that He would be crucified. Jesus showed Peter that it was he was who in error.
A man just wanted to bury his father before following Christ, but Jesus showed him that his heart was in the wrong place.
The pharisees . . . well, every time Jesus interacted with them He had to show them that their motivation was only evil continually.
And the list goes on. Time and again people went to Jesus and he showed them that their biggest problems were not their situations and surroundings, but their own self-serving hearts.
Our biggest issue, however, is not realizing that we are as much a part of the problem as everyone else it, but . . .
When there’s a Conflict, I’m the First one I should be Concerned about.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5
How many times have we flown at someone, teeth-barred only to find out our content, method, or motivation were all wrong? Unbiblical arguments, unloving behavior, and selfish priorities all betray that we’re the ones with the problem. We’d better look to the log swinging out of our head before we chastise another for his splinter.
In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus informs us that worship must take a back seat to reconciliation.
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
While in the process of worship, if I remember that a brother has been offended by something I’ve done, I need to make it right before God will be pleased by my worship.
How much worship this past Sunday was distasteful to God because the worshippers hadn’t acknowledged they had fault?
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s always about me. And it’s always about you.
In every conflict, we must look first to our own sin before trying to “fix” everyone else. Then we can be husbands that’re easy to respect, children who’re a joy to parent, and friends who rely on God’s Truth to turn the heart of men to their Creator.