Truth and Relational Conflict
Updated: Jul 12, 2022
I'm reading the minor prophets with a few friends at the moment and this morning these verses struck a chord. A question: what do you do when two sides claim to be speaking truth and there is conflict? My thoughts below...
"These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord. Zechariah 8:16-17 NIV
Because we are flawed, the phrase 'your truth' may be more accurate when navigating conflict than we would like to admit. In a conflict, each perspective has truth within it but may not necessarily be the "full truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth". For the Christian (though I think this is helpful for anyone) navigating conflict this is where humility, forgiveness, and repentance must come into view. Truth is objective but our perspective on it can be skewed. Humility helps us examine ourselves to see if we hold some responsibility in the cause of the conflict and forgiveness before God through repentance helps us be honest with ourselves if we do. Forgiving those who hurt you (not to be confused with forgetting or jumping to restoration without justice) helps to dig in to conflict without questioning the motives and intentions of the other or thinking evil of them. All of this is to remove the "plank in your own eye" so that you can make a sound judgement about the "speck of sawdust in your brother's eye" (Matthew 7).
What if the question above is asked from a bystander's perspective seeing that two sides have conflicting "truths"? Aside from looking at evidence in terms of information, is there evidence of humility, forgiveness, and repentance happening in the conflict? On both sides? Repentance and humility isn't just the use of sorry, it is the clarity of what has been done wrong and the taking of responsibility for hurt caused. If you hear the word sorry, ask what has been apologised for - if it is for another's feelings or perceptions then it isn't repentance.
A final thought - writing about humility, forgiveness, and repentance so publicly is a vulnerable thing to do and I have by no means got this sorted or even got it right in the most recent situation as a leader in the church. However, these posts invite scrutiny and if you don't see me practice what I preach in my life then you're welcome to call it out. I'm listening.