Working Through Differences
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
Anytime you enter a relationship you are going to experience differences. People get married and think that they are going to be different from every other couple only to discover that they have differences of their own. Leaders will oftentimes think they can work with someone who had differences with another leader only to find out that they are having the same differences as the former leader. It doesn’t matter who you are, the dynamics of any relationship are going to breed differences.
When differences come, how you approach them will determine whether a relationship is stronger or weaker. The husband and wife who determine to work through differences according to God’s counsel will find their marriage stronger in the end. The parent and child who are experiencing differences can make their relationship stronger if they’ll follow God’s formula for settling those differences. The employer and employee, or any relationship, can be lifelong relationships if they work with their differences according to God’s method. God shows us how to work through our differences with others in the verse above.
The first action you must take to work out differences is that you must be willing to forbear. The word “forbearing” means to cease from action. In other words, you cannot act upon your fleshly desires. Many relationships are damaged beyond repair because one or both people reacted instead of restraining themselves from action. When you are tempted to say something, you must learn not to say anything. When you are tempted to perform an action that will cause hurt to the other person, you must restrain yourself from causing harm. You will never settle differences in relationships by reacting. Someone must be willing to withhold themselves from action so that you can start the process to work out your differences.
The second action that is necessary to working out your differences is that you must be willing to forgive. If you are not willing to forgive the other person, those differences will only fester and create greater problems. I have never succeeded in helping people who are experiencing differences who are not willing to forgive. Forgiveness is the key to settling differences. You can’t change what caused the difference if one person is not willing to forgive. Forgiveness is what causes you to lay aside your angst in order to be willing to work out the cause of the difference. If you want to settle a difference with someone, at the outset of the wrong you are going to have to be willing to forgive them.
The one thing that makes a person willing to forbear and forgive is love. Verse 14 says, “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Friend, when you love someone, that love will motivate you to forbear and forgive. When you stop focusing on love and react with anger, that causes you not to work out your differences. It comes down to letting love become the driving factor in your relationship. Love is the glue, so when differences come you are willing to forbear and forgive so that your relationship will grow stronger. Let me encourage you not to let differences destroy your relationships. Put on the love of Christ and you will find that you will be more willing to forbear and forgive which will result in settling your differences.