When it comes to conflict resolution or preventative measures to head it off, we already know being quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger is an important step (see James 1:19). However, good listening skills and being less apt to be offended requires another important spiritual principle: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Deny the self means you don’t insert yourself into the situation. It does not mean you become less of a person; rather, you humble yourself before the Lord.
Taking up your cross means in part that you don’t demand your “rights”; in fact, you gave up your rights to Jesus when you received Him as Lord and Savior.
Contrary to popular belief, you really are not your own anymore because you were bought with the price. It’s in the Bible. On the Cross, Jesus did not demand His rights; He relinquished them. As a matter of fact, He did that prior to the Cross. His heart was and still is reconciliation between God and mankind. It required His death. While being crucified, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He mediated for us. In our conflict with God, He became Who He needed to be for the Father and us.
In a number of conflicts, individuals are more concerned about what the other party involved did or failed to do. They want them to become or do something that suits them. They care about what they get out of the deal. They are more concerned about being offended than whether they’re being offensive to other person. Conflicts tend to escalate when people refuse to humble themselves. In essence, they depart from love. Following Jesus includes being who we need to be for Him. It does not mean we attempt to be something we’re not. People wind up being pretentious or hypocritical when they try to be who they are not. By submitting to Holy Spirit, one will be who he or she needs to be for Him. Sometimes, it is simple as asking, “Who do you need me to be for them at this time?” The quick answer is, “Jesus.” Denying yourself comes into play when others become quite aggressive in their posture. They can be demanding, reactive and explosive in the way they deal with you. When they are overcome by emotions, they tend to not be as rational as they normally would be otherwise. If they insult, mock or try to provoke you, it can be very difficult to remain calm. This is when James 1:5 comes into play: But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. Simply focus on God and ask Him, “What does he or she need right now?” Again, this is the time to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Wait for Him, and definitely stayed centered in love, so you do not become reactive. Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
How do I know when it’s wisdom from God?
If you read James 3:13-18, you can quickly discern wisdom from above versus earthly wisdom by comparing the two. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say righteous, and is peace my goal here?” Verses 17 and 18 say, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Earthly wisdom is filled with bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. Even when everything is correct in Father’s eyes, we must do our best to remain patient. As already stated, those overwhelmed by emotions don’t always respond rationally. Therefore, they may not immediately calm down, especially if there was a long fuse to the powder keg. Patience bides its time. It realizes that it may not see a peaceable response from the other person until a later time. By remaining submitted to Holy Spirit, you will be able to allow His fruit to manifest through you. Our fight is to remain spiritual and not become self-righteous and indignant. Philippians 2:3-4Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Denying ourselves does not mean we remain silent when we should speak; however, it does mean that we will filter what we say through love.
That means retaliation is not an option, and we do not allow anger to speak for us. There may be times when we simply have to say, “I can’t talk about this right now, but I will talk later.” From there we go spend time with our Father and listen to His heart on the matter. Pray as He leads, and obey what He says. It is not a time to go around getting other people involved and taking an opinion poll. Perhaps the Lord will lead you to talk with someone who is wise, but the discussion still begins with Him. The bottom line is that we do things on His terms.