One Bible Text That Will Radically Change the Way You Handle Conflict

There is one passage of scripture (just one), that if godly people would hide it in their heart it would change the world. It is a passage that I had to memorize in my spiritual formations class in seminary. I am so glad that I did. It has made a tremendous difference in my life and ministry over the past 11 years.
 
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
 
The first line says, “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone…” The word for “servant” is more accurately translated as “slave.” If one is a slave to Jesus, then he or she cannot help but be kind. To fight and quarrel is a part of their old nature that has passed away. Kindness is the characteristic of their Lord and the whole reason why they are able to serve Him in the first place. Being right, being vindicated, and coming out on top of a conflict takes a backseat to showing kindness to the one who is in err. Servants of Christ know how being shown kindness will draw the erring one to repentance and new life.
 
The passage goes on to say that the slave of Christ must be “able to teach…” The word implies that the servant must go beyond just sound teaching. One is to be apt in his or her ability to teach. When there is conflict, rather than return evil for evil, escalating the conflict into a war of words, the servant of Christ is able to provide a timely word of instruction. The ability to teach is derived from the servant’s wealth of experience in walking in step with the truth of the gospel and profound confidence in who he is in Christ. People who fly off the handle in times of conflict reveal the insecurity in their hearts and their lack of godly wisdom.
 
The Lord’s slave must be “patiently enduring evil…” As slaves of Christ, we are going to be treated badly at times. Jesus said in John 15:20, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” The problem with a lot of people who call themselves servants of Christ is that they think being a servant of Christ entitles them to better treatment. The truth is that we deserve worse. The Lord, in all of His great love and grace, has patiently endured our sin and evil. Should we not show patience and grace to those who are doing us evil?
 
We must correct our opponents “with gentleness.” Too often, when we correct opponents we do so to prove that we are right and they are wrong. There is, however, something more important than being right—your brother’s soul. The goal is to get him or her to turn away from the evil that they are doing or the untruth that they are teaching or believing. You are not going to accomplish this by issuing a harsh correction. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Our goal should always be to point our opponents to Christ, and this requires us to do so in the character of Christ.
 
The last few lines of the passage say, “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” There are a few gems here. First, God is the one who grants the erring one repentance. The outcome of God granting a person repentance is two-fold. One, it leads them to the knowledge of the truth, and two, it delivers them from the snare in which they have been trapped by the devil. If we believe that we are right and they are wrong, then only God granted repentance will change their minds. It is to this end we should work and pray in every conflict.