THE Bible says of humans: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Because the more than seven billion people on earth are imperfect, personality conflicts are inevitable. How can we make peace under such circumstances?
The Bible offers good advice. It describes the Creator as “the God of peace,” whose name is Jehovah. (Hebrews 13:20; Psalm 83:18) God wants his earthly children to enjoy peaceful relations. And in this regard, he takes the lead. When the first human couple sinned against God, breaking off peaceful relations, he immediately took steps toward reconciliation with his human creation. (2 Corinthians 5:19) Consider three things you can do to make peace with others.
What does the Bible say? “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also.”—Colossians 3:13.
What is the challenge? Perhaps you have a valid “cause for complaint” and feel justified in breaking off relations with the offender. You may also reason that the offender should apologize first. But if the person is unaware of his offense, or believes that you are in the wrong, the conflict will likely remain at an impasse.
What can you do? Heed the Bible’s advice by forgiving the person freely, especially if the problem is minor. Remember, if God kept account of our mistakes, we could never stand before him. (Psalm 130:3) The Bible says that “Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness. For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.”—Psalm 103:8, 14.
Consider, too, the Bible proverb: “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11) Insight helps us to see beneath the surface, to discern why people speak or act as they do. So ask yourself, ‘Was the person who wronged me tired, ill, or under pressure?’ Discerning others’ true motives, feelings, and circumstances may moderate your anger and help you to make allowances for their mistakes.
Talk It Out
What does the Bible say? “If your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”—Matthew 18:15.
What is the challenge? Negative emotions such as fear, anger, and embarrassment may prevent you from approaching the person to resolve the problem. You may also be tempted to seek the support of others by telling them about the problem, potentially widening and inflaming the conflict.
What can you do? When a problem is serious and you feel you are unable to overlook it, approach the person to talk it out. Try handling the matter as follows:
(1) Promptly: Do not procrastinate. If you do, the problem may fester. Try applying the advice of Jesus, namely: “[If] you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift.”—Matthew 5:23, 24.
(2) Privately: Resist the temptation to gossip with others about the problem. “Plead your own cause with your fellowman, and do not reveal the confidential talk of another.”—Proverbs 25:9.
(3) Peacefully: Resist the tendency to analyze who is right and who is wrong. Your goal is to make peace, not to win the dispute. Try using the word “I” instead of “you.” Telling the person “I feel hurt because . . .” may be much more effective than saying: “You hurt me!” The Bible puts it this way: “Pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another.”—Romans 14:19.
What is the challenge? If your initial efforts to make peace are rebuffed, you may be tempted to give up.
What can you do? Be patient. People have different temperaments and levels of maturity. Some take more time to cool down; others are still learning to display godly qualities. Keep on showing them kindness and love. “Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good,” says the Bible.—Romans 12:21.
To make peace with others, we need to work to display humility, insight, patience, and love. But peaceful relations are surely worth it!
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
● What will help you to forgive someone freely?—Colossians 3:13.
● What can help you to approach the person to talk the problem out?—Matthew 5:23, 24.
● What can you do if your efforts to make peace are rebuffed?—Romans 12:17-21.
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“The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.”—PROVERBS 19:11