There is an Ewe proverb, which says that “Tre eve menɔa tɔ dzi gbea wonɔewo ŋu kaka o” (Two calabashes on a river can never avoid touching each other). So, you see, there will always be conflicts. There are conflicts everywhere, be it in church, at home, in the family, school or any place you can think of. It’s human nature, which is why Jesus talked about conflict and how to resolve it. Paul also talked about it.
Conflict left unresolved could be damaging and lead to many serious issues. And I believe one of the important things in resolving conflict is “admission of guilt”. If you know that you are wrong, a simple admission of wrong could go a long way to resolving the conflict.
Nonetheless, the following steps can be followed to resolve conflict in any settings as emphasised by Jesus (Matthew 18:15-17).
- Go to the person who wronged you and tell him/her what he or she did. Sometimes the person didn’t even know that they wronged you, so it’s important the offended takes the first step. Jesus said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone“, (Matthew 18:15). Notice the word, “alone”. In other words, in private, between the two of you and face-to-face if possible. And Jesus said that if the person understands that they did wrong, you have won that person over for Christ.
- If the person refused to understand that they are wrong and the issue is not resolved, you should go to him/her with at least one person so “that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established“, (Matthew 18:16). The reason for the witnesses is to help in resolving the matter and they will serve as a point of reference for you in the future should the need arises. In this regard, you should go with people who you think they will listen to, because of the respect they might have for them. If after this attempt, peace cannot be made, proceed to the last step.
- “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church”, (Matthew 18:17). Take the matter to the Catechist or Pastor for resolution. If the person refused to listen and is still unrepentant, the Bible says, leave him/her alone. You have done your part. If it’s in the family, you can take the matter to a high figure in the family who can settle the issue between you two. In any other setting, you can take the matter to a high figure for final resolution, failing which you can let the person(s) be.
Finally, it is important that if you wrong someone, you ask for forgiveness. If you are wronged and the person asks for forgiveness, forgive, because there is healing in forgiveness apart from the fact that you will also offend someone someday.