Handling Disputes Properly, Part 1

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Today we are going to begin a series of messages about handling disputes.
Last week, we were in 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul was chastising the believers in Corinth for not handling disputes properly.
As I reflected on that passage last week, I was challenged, and I challenged us all to think on how it applies to us. We may not be taking other believers to court, but are we handling disputes properly? Are we taking other believers, or those with whom we have a dispute to the court of public opinion? That is, do we go to others and talk about the problem. And as we go to others to talk about the dispute, do we tend to paint the picture of the tension in a light that will make that particular person see our side?
I find that we tend paint the picture in such a way that they will know how right we are, and how wrong the other person is. As believers, we may give parlance to, “what have I done wrong,” but we have manipulated the story, and the person we are talking to in a way that we are not wrong, but it is the other person. We go not to truly get help, but to get sympathy.
Going to others is a biblical part of handling a dispute. However, we need to do it properly. Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to be going to other saints to help resolve the issue.
1 Corinthians 6:1 NIV
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people?
Also, in Philippians, Paul encouraged believers to help two women who were having a dispute.
Philippians 4:2–3 NIV
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Jesus, when talking about handling disputes said this,
Matthew 18:15–17 NIV
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Jesus also said that if we cannot handle a dispute with a brother just between us and them, that we should take one or two others along.
But notice what the purpose is. They are to help establish what is truly going on, and how to settle it. We are not to just go get people on our side, and then take them along to put the other person in their place.
Today, we are going to begin looking at how we can help one another to properly handle disputes. How should we help those who are having a dispute?
I don’t know about you, but I find helping people who are in a dispute to be really hard. Where do you start? How do you start? How do you work through it?
What we are going to be looking at over the next few weeks are points that I am taking from Brian Noble of Peacemakers Ministries. He wrote a book, The Path of the Peacemaker, which I believe has some very good points. There is another book, by Ken Sande, the founder of Peacemakers Ministries, which is also an excellent resource. I have shared the points from this book before, and I often share this pamphlet, Peacemaking Principles, which is based upon the book, with others. That book is titled, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.
So, where do we begin. I think it wise to first hear from someone when they come to us, and to identify with them in their suffering. Because, when we are in a dispute, it does hurt. It hurts us, and it hurts those around us. We identify with their suffering, and remind them that they are not alone. We all deal with tension.

The Reality of Tension

This world is full of tension, isn’t it? Where can we get away from it?
Wars and fighting
Olympics… Belarus, Israel/Russia, who won?
Luke 21:9–11 NIV
When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
Work - not enough workers, too much to do, boss, coworker
Spouse - Adam and Eve
Kids - David and his children
Siblings - Cain and Abel
Friends - Paul and Barnabbas
Get alone… conscience - Roman 2:15
Get with God… guilt, shame
Where can we go to get away from tension?
No where… But there can be a peace found in the tension when it is used properly.

Proper Use of Tension

Rubber band illustration
James 1:2–4 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Rubber band
Helping one another to use the tension properly to grow.
Ephesians 4:15–16 NIV
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Like a body getting exercise, tension is needed for our growth.
That is what God wants to do with the tension, with disputes in our lives. He wants to use it to grow us. He wants to use other people around us to make us mature.
There is a good that can come from tension when it is used properly.
So, we need to identify with them in the suffering, and then challenge them as a saint… How does God want to use this tension in your life? Let’s start looking at what He wants to do in you to make you grow. Let’s look at how He wants to use you to help others grow. Let’s see how this tension can be used of God. Let’s look to Jesus.

Open one eye to the world, and you will find tension. Open both eyes to the world, and you will be depressed. Set your eyes on Jesus, and you will find hope

Once we build the bridge of sympathizing with the hurt and reality of tension, and then challenge them as a saint to view tension properly, we are ready to begin walking the Path of a Peacemaker, as Brian Noble calls it.
Path of a Peacemaker
Today, we will begin with the story.


What is their story? But we need to change it a little bit. Don’t tell me what the other person did or did not do. Tell me about you. What is your background? What brought you to this point? Show me the ‘video’ of you going through this situation.
As you hear their story, keep reminding them to talk about them, and their thoughts, their desires.
Listen for:

Story Detail 1 - View of God and His Word

God let you down?
God isn’t present?
God is Creator?
God is Judge?
God is Savior?
God is Father?
God is Friend?
God Word? Unclear? Doesn’t apply? Yeah but…?

Story Detail 2 - Relational Influences


Story Detail 3 - View of Success and Failure

What do you want?
What are you afraid of happening?

Story Detail 4 - Bitterness and Forgiveness / Justice and Injustice

Story Detail 5 - Mindset

Jacob and Esau - Genesis 25, 27-33

God? His Word?
Family - Influence
Relational Influences - Esau’s wives
Sibling rivalry
Hobbies - hunting, mamma's boy, shepherding
Success - immediate, future, most toys
Bitterness and forgiveness, justice/injustice
Colossians 3:2 NIV
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Discover the Facts of the Story

Example of woman and son with car-breakdown - Perspective
How might a change in perspective affect this tension/dispute?
Philippians 4:8 NIV
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Discover Motives and Fears

Ephesians 4:31–32 NIV
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Discover Hope

James 1:2–4 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
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