Focal Passages: Joshua 22:11-12, 15-18, 26-27, 33-34
How do you handle conflict as you lead others? Most of us have probably experienced some unhealthy, and ultimately ungodly responses to conflict. Some respond to conflict by avoiding confrontation and hoping the issue will resolve itself. Others take a more direct approach, confronting without any regard for peacemaking. We, however, are concerned with a different kind of approach. As leaders under the lordship of Christ, we want to know how we are to respond to conflict in a manner that brings Him glory.
In this passage, we find the Israelites with a potential civil war on their hands. It’s a simple case of misinterpreted motives. We should take note of a few important elements here that ought to inform how we handle conflict in our own lives. First, we should recognize what the conflict is about. The Israelites west of the Jordan suspect that the two and a half tribes across the Jordan have turned away from the Lord’s commands. If true, this has to be confronted. Notice that they are not just upset over the landscaping across the river.
As leaders, we need to know which issues we should confront firmly and which matters warrant a softer touch. As we saw previously, sin cannot go unchallenged. We are called to lovingly confront sin, and here the Israelites believe they are doing just that, and they express their concern with love.
The conflict resolution doesn’t end here. From the Israelites we learn the importance of listening. Without this important component, the situation in Joshua 22 might have turned out quite differently. A God-honoring approach to conflict resolution is fair to the other side. Notice the resolution of the conflict between the Israelites: God receives worship as a result.
This should be the end goal every time we encounter conflict. Conflict is not easy nor is it pleasant, but the leader who longs to glorify God recognizes it as an opportunity to display the greatness of God.