TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” (Matthew 18:15 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I hate conflict. I think very few people actually enjoy it. And the ones who do seem to enjoy it are generally the people who simply like to stir the pot. I avoid those kinds of people. Yet conflict is inevitable. Thankfully, the Bible has an example of how to handle Christian conflict with humility.
Let’s go to Galatians 2 when Paul confronted Peter. I’ll sum up. Paul and Peter were both Jewish men called to share the Gospel. Paul’s target audience were the Gentiles. Peter’s target audience were the Jews. Or, as Paul wrote in verse 7, “I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised.” When Peter was visiting, he acted like a hypocrite—he ate with the Gentiles until other Jews showed up (see verse 12). I see this scene in my mind like a high school cafeteria: The cool guy is fine hanging out with the band geeks until his other cool friends arrive. Then, he switches tables and acts like he doesn’t know the band geeks.
So Paul called him out. Verses 13-14 say, “And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” (Cephas is Peter in Aramaic.)
Paul recognized the damage Peter’s behavior would do to both parties. The Gentiles would not trust the truth that God shows no partiality (Galatians 2:6). And the Jews would not remember that the Good News was meant for everyone—that Jesus died for all people to find eternal life through Him (John 3:16).
Now here’s where humility came in, and it came from Peter. Paul’s letter to the Galatians doesn’t tell us how Peter responded to this moment of conflict. But if we flip to 2 Peter 3:15, Peter wrote of Paul, and called him a “beloved brother.” So even though Peter was the one who walked with Jesus… even though Jesus identified Peter as the one upon whom He would build His church (Matthew 16:18)… Peter was humble enough to leave the conflict without feeling bitter or angry toward Paul. He even continued to refer to Paul’s wisdom and writing as Scriptural (verses 15-16).
I give huge kudos to Peter for this. He could have nursed his bruised ego, and pretend like the conflict didn’t happen. He didn’t have to recognize Paul in this way… But it seems that he recognized the conflict for the truth it was and accepted the criticism with humility. And he didn’t begrudge Paul for confronting him.
I admit, I’m not very much like Peter. I do not like to be criticized or told I’m wrong. My general strategy, even if I know you’re right, is to avoid you. It’s a lesson in humility that I have yet to master.
What about you? When you’re faced with conflict, how do you respond? With anger and defensiveness? Or with a spirit of humility?
Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15). And in the case of Paul and Peter’s conflict—Jesus’ words proved true (as they always are!).
Today, as you pray, thank God for this lesson on Biblical conflict. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you have a loving heart with those you confront and a humble spirit when you’re the one confronted.
SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.