Handling Disputes Properly, Reflect

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We are picking up our study of Handling Disputes Properly today. We see in 1 Corinthians 6, that the Corinthian believers were not handling disputes, or conflict, properly. They were actually taking these conflicts before the public courts, and trying to make themselves look good, while tearing down their brothers.
Paul rebukes them for this behavior, and tells them that if they need help working through these disputes, they should go to other believers.
This is in line with what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 18, when he said to take others along to help establish the matter when someone sins against us, and we cannot resolve it between us and the other person.
So, how do we help others handle disputes properly?
In the past weeks we have seen the first two of four steps. These steps were developed by Peacemaker Ministries, and are founded on principles we find in scripture.
4 Steps Slide
The first step is to get the Story. We identify with the person. They are not alone in their struggles. We show love and compassion as God shows to us, and commands us to do. We get the details, and their backstory. In this way we begin to carry one another’s burdens.
The second step is to Ascend. We exhort the other person to get out of the gutter of their own thinking, and ascend to think on what is true, good, lovely, of good repute. They need to think properly of the Lord. They need to think properly of themselves. They need to think properly about the other person in the conflict. As we practiced in the service that day, we read and personalize scripture so the Holy Spirit can use it wash and renew the mind. We turn scripture into personalized prayers.
Once we have taken time to Ascend in our thinking, we need to help the person to Reflect. that is what we will be looking at this morning.


What does it mean to reflect?
First, it does not mean to dwell on the conflict and how wrong the other person is.
It does mean to think of ourselves. Reflecting is asking the question, “What about me?” And, “What was in my heart? What do I want? What do I fear?”
Reflecting is taking a look at our own hearts and motives. We want to encourage the person with whom we are working to do this crucial step of Reflection to prepare themselves for later Connecting and working through the issue with the other person.
As we take time to look at our hearts we need to remember the truth God has revealed in scripture.
Jeremiah 17:9–10 NIV
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
Our own hearts are deceitful. We easily convince ourselves that we are doing things properly. We convince ourselves that we are trying to seek the Lord, or consider the other person, all the while, our hearts are truly seeking after our own selfish desires.
Since the Lord is the One who knows the heart, and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, we need to confess this to the Lord.
“Lord, my heart is deceitful. It may fool me. However, you know the truth. You know my heart.”
And, then we turn to Psalm 139.
Psalm 139 speaks of how intimately the Lord knows and cares for us.
Psalm 139:1–6 NIV
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
These verses show us His loving care and concern for us.
Later, David says this,
Psalm 139:7–12 NIV
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
God will not leave us. He will lead us. He sees when we cannot see.
Psalm 139:17–18 NIV
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
God truly knows all about us and He is thinking about us!
Then, after reflecting on how much God cares, and knows, we are ready to ask Him, as David did,
Psalm 139:23–24 NIV
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
We need to encourage the person to seek the Lord as David did. To pray this prayer to the God who knows, cares, and thinks of us, wanting the best for us as we live in this sin-filled, troubled world.

Reflect - Know my heart

In the scriptures, and in life, we find that our hearts and minds are closely connected. What are our hearts? Not the blood pumping vessel, but our hearts when we speak of what is going on in our hearts?
Seat of belief
Seat of emotions
James tells us that our hearts are at the center of disputes.
James 4:1-2
James 4:1–2 NIV
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Reflect - Know my heart: Desires

Our hearts are where our desires lie. It is where we will find our dreams. Our hopes. Our wants. Our longings. And our hearts do not easily change.
Our desires are at the center of our disputes, fights and quarrels. We fight because we do not have, are not getting, or are afraid we are not getting what we want. Or, conversely, we are gettting, or are afraid of getting what we want.
In this dispute, ask the Lord to know and reveal your heart to you. What is it you desire? What do you want?
How does what you want line up with what God wants?
There is another thing that lies within our hearts. Beyond the desires, beyond the wants lie our motives.
James puts it this way.
James 4:3 NIV
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Reflect - Know my heart: Motives

Asking the Lord to Know my heart, we need to see what our desires are. And, we need to know what our motives are. Why do I want the things I want? Again, we can deceive ourselves that we want it for the good of our family, or for the good of others. However, we need the Lord to know and reveal our hearts. We need the Lord to reveal to us our motives. Often, when there is a dispute, the real motive is our own selfish gain. I want this so I can have a better life. I want this so I do not have to struggle with this or that. I want to avoid discomfort or pain. I want to … Ask the Lord to reveal your motives.
Our hearts are deceitful. We need the Lord to reveal our hearts, both our desires, and our motives.
Next, as David prayed, we need to reflect and know...

Reflect - Know my anxious thoughts

What am I anxious about? What causes you anxiety? Of what are you afraid? Knowing our anxious thoughts can help us understand some of our desires and motives. Fear plays on our hearts to get us to do things we should not do. Fear always deals in the what if? Fear is a predictor, but does not deal in reality. Fear in our hearts will lead us into disputes and quarrels.
Joshua 1:8–9 NIV
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Do not be afraid. I am with you!!
Reflect and know your anxious thoughts. Take them to the Lord. He cares for you. He will be with you.

Reflect - Know my offensive ways

What are offensive ways? How did I act or react?
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.
Did I act out of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice?
Silent treatment?
Emotional withdrawal?
Slander - speaking with others about the other person? Pleading your case.
Belittling? Intimidating?
Yelling, Screaming?
Verbal attacks? Verbally destroying the other person?
Physical assault?
Social Media?
Reputation destruction?
Even if you were 100% right in what you were standing for in your fight, if you acted in these ways, you were 100% wrong in your actions. There are offensive ways in you.
Some may argue, but they made me do it! If they wouldn’t have made such a stupid argument, I would not have reacted that way!
Actually, Jesus addressed this as well.
Matthew 15:18 NIV
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.
Ask the Lord to Reveal your offensive ways.
In all of this, we want to follow Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 7.
Matthew 7:3–5 NIV
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

What are your logs?

When in conflict, it is so easy to see where the other person is wrong.
Have the person with whom you are working take time to pray Psalm 139.
Then, have them write down:
We need the Lord to search our hearts, and show us:
Reflect - Psalm 139:23-24, Lord show us:
Our hearts - desires and motives
Our anxious thoughts - our fears
Our offensive ways
In doing this, we can get the log out of our own eyes.
How do we get these logs out of our eyes? How do we get our heart cleansed from these selfish desires and motives, from the self-serving fears, from the offensive ways?
Our selfish desires and motives are our disobedience to the commands of the Lord to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is disobedience to considering others before ourselves.
Our fears are living in rebellion to the Lord who tells us to not be afraid, but to trust Him because He cares for us, and will be with us.
Our offensive ways are our disobedience to the Lord and murdering others with our thoughts, actions, and words.
So what do we do with them?

Reflect - The Gospel

Once we recognize the sinfulness of our hearts, our anxious thoughts, and our offensive ways, we need to reflect on the gospel. Gospel is that fancy word for the good news the Lord has for us.
What is the gospel?
1 Corinthians 15:1–5 NIV
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

Jesus died for our sins

What do I need to take to the cross? What do I need to confess?

Jesus was buried

How will I lay this down? How will I deny myself? As Jesus said, Luke 9:23-24 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
How will I deny my selfish desires? How will I deny my selfish motives? How will I deny and lay down my fears? How will I lay down my offensive ways? What will I put in place of my offensive responses?

Jesus was raised

And, as Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-4 “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
We are no longer slaves to our old ways of living selfishly, and offensively. We have been set free when God made us new to live a new, freedom to live correctly. What will that look like? How will we respond next time?
Once we Reflect, we need to take time to commit this to the Lord in prayer.


Let’s take a moment to reflect. Let’s practice this ourselves, before we try to help someone else through this process.
Let’s begin with making Psalm 139:23-24 a prayer.
Psalm 139:23–24 NIV
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Reflect - Know my Heart: Desires and Motives

Reflect - Know my anxious thoughts

Reflect - Know my offensive ways

Reflect on the Gospel

Reflect - the cross

Reflect - the burial

Reflect - the resurrection

Psalm 139:24 (NIV)
...lead me in the way everlasting.

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