Conflict and the Godly Leader

23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

15If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

In these passages Jesus addresses an issue that we struggle with today: conflict. Jesus knew that his church and his people would experience conflict. The conflict itself is not always bad; what is important is the way we handle ourselves in the midst of it. Knowing the damage conflict can cause, Jesus gives clear direction on how to handle it with integrity.

As a group:

1. Read the passages aloud.
2. If we know that we have angered or offended someone, what are we to do?
3. Who should we talk to if we have been offended?
4. What family term does Jesus choose to use in both passages?

Reflect individually or in small groups:

1. Why does Jesus refer to other believers as being family members? 
2. How does it change our approach to conflict if we see the people we are in conflict with as family members we love?
3. Because conflict hinders our worship of God, Jesus wants us to handle conflict with integrity. Why is that so hard?
4. Is there someone you need to speak with before you worship again?

If you are experiencing significant conflict in your congregation, as a consistory you might want to call upon either your classis or your regional synod for assistance in resolving that conflict.

Pray together, as a whole consistory. Sample prayer:

God, we confess that we are too often petty in the way we deal with one another. Give us the grace to humbly say "I am sorry" when we need to, and strengthen us to be able to truly forgive. Bring to mind those whom we have offended so we might go to them and be reconciled. Amen.