Conflict is inevitable. Any time you spend time with other people, you will eventually have conflict. So the question isn’t whether it happens, but how you will handle it. James gives three ways Christians are to behave during conflict. (Really this is good for any situation.)
James says, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger (19).”
What does it mean to be quick to hear? Let me give three practical ways that could help solve conflict.
The first tip is start with listening. This means we need to hear out the other person before we start to speak. Instead of beginning with accusations, start with questions. A lot of perceived disagreement can be cleared up just by hearing the other side of the story.
The second tip is listen with godly ears. This means that we are to assess the situation according to God’s Word. When we listen, we need to discern whether what is being said is true, according to God’s standard. It also means we do not accept false accusations. We listen to make sure that we are addressing the situation according to God’s Word.
The last tip I want to offer, when it comes to being quick to listen, is to make sure we get all of the information. This means that if we are an arbitrator between two people, we’re hearing both sides of the story. Too often when we hear from someone in conflict, they are not giving the entire truth.
God says that this is foolishness. We can make ourselves look like fools because we might give an answer without understanding the entire matter. Proverbs 18:17 says “the one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.“ Proverbs 18:13 says, “if one gives an answer before he hears it is folly and shame.” We need to make sure that we are hearing both sides of the story so that we are getting the truth.
Are you quick to listen? When you are in conflict do you spend more time listening than talking? Do you ask questions before you make accusations? Do you line up what you hear with God’s truth? Do you make sure that you are getting both sides of the story before we come to a conclusion about a matter?
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