Posts

5 Lessons from A Family Feud

Photo from Yahoo


Family disputes are common. In fact, I see them happening in my own family all too often, whether it is over minute or important matters. But over the past few weeks, one particular family feud in Singapore has captured the attention of many in my country—and perhaps around the world too.

The conflict, which erupted over social media on June 14, concerns allegations of abuse of power by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, made by his two younger siblings over the fate of their late father’s house at 38 Oxley Road.

Yesterday afternoon (July 3), PM Lee formally addressed this issue in Parliament, where he defended the actions he took following the death of his father, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, in March 2015, and allowed Members of Parliament to question him.

Like many Singaporeans, I have been following this saga closely. And I’ve been both shocked and sad to see this happening in a family that I deeply respect and hold in high regard.

Without getting into a debate over who is right or wrong, I can see some personal lessons to be learned from this issue. What this dispute has shown me is that all humans are prone to conflict—regardless of how clever, powerful, or well-regarded we are.

This applies just as much to Christians. Though we all belong to the family of God, we have our fair share of conflict too. When challenged, our natural instinct is to fight back and vindicate ourselves. But most of the time, such encounters don’t end well. In my church, I have seen members leaving as a result; disputes can also lead to a split in the church.

So how should Christians respond when we don’t see eye-to-eye with each other? Here are five ways in which I believe we can respond to conflict within the family of God.

 

1. Recognize the need for resolution

God dislikes conflict. When we were at odds with God because of our sin, He made the first move for us to be reconciled—and He paid a hefty price for it, by sending His own Son Jesus to die on the cross to redeem us.

In the same way, God doesn’t want us to be at odds with anyone in the church. He wants us to be reconciled with others. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

Will we make an effort to resolve our differences because it pleases God—even if we don’t feel like it?

 

2. Exhibit self-control

When we feel hurt by others, it is natural to lash back. But we have to be careful not to allow our emotions to get the better of ourselves so that we act on impulse. God calls us to exercise self-control, which is one attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Practising self-control means taking charge of our thoughts and attitudes so that they do not dictate our actions and lead us to behave in a way that displeases God.

The next time we get into a conflict, will we react calmly (Proverbs 29:11)?

 

3. Have an attitude of humility

Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to “value others above yourselves”. It is a challenging instruction because it means we have to put our pride and our interests aside. But Jesus has shown us examples of humility which we are called to imitate. While He was equal with God, He chose to forsake that privilege by becoming a human, being wronged, and finally dying for us in a humiliating manner. If Jesus cared merely about himself, none of us would ever be reconciled with God.

When we humble ourselves before others, we can take heart that God is pleased, for “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).

Even though we may look foolish to the world, are we willing to be wronged for the sake of reconciliation?

 

4. Take time to listen and empathize

Taking time to listen and empathize can seem extremely difficult to do in the heat of the moment. But what this simply means is to be willing to understand how the other party has been hurt.

Fools are described as those who “find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2). Instead, we are called to listen before answering (Proverbs 18:13).

Will we put aside our prejudices and hurt to truly listen and understand the other party?

 

 5. Show love

Above all, as a family of God, we are commanded by the Lord to love one another as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). It is one of His two greatest commandments.

When we show love to others in times of conflict, we are able to stand united as a family of Christ and show the world that Jesus is a God of love. And we can take heart that God is with us when we gather to resolve the conflict, peaceably in love (Matthew 18:20).

Are others able to see Jesus through the way we respond to conflict?

 

The way to resolve a conflict is not by trying to win the fight or prove that we are right. It’s by responding in love and showing Christ in our response.

One statement that PM Lee made yesterday stood out: “At the end of the day, we are brother and sister, and we are all our parents’ children.”

I couldn’t agree more. At the end of the day, we are all God’s children, seeking to please the same Father.

When A Fellow Christian Annoys You

Written by Joshua, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese

Whenever relationships are involved, there’s always friction—even relationships in the church. One reason why we get annoyed by fellow Christians is simple: we have different ways of doing things.

I can identify with this. I’m currently sharing a house with a Christian. Naturally, we clash—sometimes over the smallest things. For example, my housemate finds that I take too long to shower and complains that it leads to an increase in monthly utility costs. Sometimes, he gets annoyed when I leave dirty dishes in the sink. He once expressed his dissatisfaction about my behavior, saying he was upset that he had to keep reminding me about the same things, time and again. Having said that, he never once argued with me or lost his temper. I really appreciate that he always takes time to patiently explain what he is unhappy about.

Perhaps you have come across a similar situation, where you’ve been angry or upset about certain actions that fellow brothers or sisters in Christ have made. In such moments, it’s wise to remember what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:26: “ ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”.

And then there’s the call to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), which should lead us towards reconciliation. Also, if we do not resolve the unhappiness we face with our brothers and sisters, we will be in disunity and unable to worship God in one accord.

So what can we do when we get upset with our fellow brothers and sisters?

 

Pray for our relationships.

It’s the most obvious and the most needful thing to do. Let’s seek God’s guidance, ask Him to remove the negative emotions we’re experiencing, and draw comfort and encouragement from His Word. When we commit our relationships to God, He will lead us towards making decisions or actions that please Him. I believe that by God’s wisdom and grace, we can establish good relationships with each other.

 

Communicate honestly and openly with each other.

When my housemate shared openly about how some of my bad habits annoyed him, he gave me the opportunity to explain my side of the story—I tend to be forgetful sometimes. From then on, he tried to remind me gently whenever I forgot to wash my dirty dishes, to help me get rid of my bad habit. This has helped us live harmoniously.

Often, open communication is the key to a good relationship. With “Loving your neighbor as yourself” as the underlying motivation, we can work towards resolving our problems through communication. Let’s help our friends understand how their actions have offended us—or vice versa—and give each other the chance to improve and make amends.

At the same time, we should also make an effort to listen to each other’s side of the story and put ourselves in each other’s shoes. Throughout the process, we should be wise and express our feelings appropriately, just as Proverbs 25:11 mentions, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (ESV) May God soften our hearts and help us reach mutual understanding so that we can establish relationships that glorify Him.

 

Desire reconciliation.

Besides making our feelings known, we should express our willingness to reconcile with the other party. This should stem from our obedience and love for Jesus. What this means is that we should remain humble and avoid using harsh words of accusation against the other, which may cost us the opportunity to nurture a good relationship.

Let’s always remember that the other party also needs time to change; what we can do is to be understanding and patient in the meantime.

 

Remind yourself that both of you are Christians saved by grace.

Nobody is perfect, not even Christians. We are all sinners saved by grace, and that’s why each of us is susceptible to sin against God or others. And while we may irritate and annoy each other, we are still fellow brethren in Christ. Once we understand this, our differences won’t look so irreconcilable anymore.

 

Watch your tongue.

When a fellow Christian annoys you, take a moment to decide if you should react or hold back. This will give you time to first seek God and examine if your response is edifying. It also helps to prevent conflicts. During this period, it is especially important to be mindful of your speech. Proverbs tells us, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues” (Proverbs 17:27-28)

 

As Christians, let’s try our best to seek unity in the Lord so that we can glorify Him. May He grant us wisdom and teach us how to handle our interpersonal conflicts.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

What My Ideal Family Looks Like

I had always wished that I was an Eurasian, so I would have nice big, deep-set eyes and light brown hair. Ideally, I would be the youngest of three, with two elder brothers, and I would be studying in an international school in an Asian country where my dad works as a diplomat. My English name would have a graceful ring to it, like “Ella Rosewood”. I would take my summer vacations overseas, returning to Asia only when the school term began. We would live in a nice house, with lush, green lawns, an outdoor Olympic-sized pool, and a host of helpers, from drivers to gardeners.

In reality, I am about as Asian as you can get. I have black hair, and my eyes are not as big as I would wish them to be. My Chinese surname translates to “King” in English, but it would be a great disrespect to my ancestors if I had my name changed to Michele King. I have a younger sister, and we get on like a house on fire. And I spent a fair bit of my childhood in Malaysia before my family moved overseas. (And for the record, I do my own chores.)

Many of us have our own image of what our ideal family should look like. Maybe it’s a traditional one, where the husband brings home the bacon while his wife looks after their young children. Or maybe it’s a DINK (Dual Income, No Kids). Or maybe it’s one with lots and lots of children, so you can shower them all with your love.

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world. Instead of having ideal families, we find ourselves battling the effects of broken relationships, revelations of adulterous spouses, squabbles between siblings over an inheritance, or the devastating blow of an inability to conceive.

We yearn to be part of a family and to be loved and accepted. It’s perfectly normal, because we were made for relationships. God formed us for a relationship with Him, and this is shown in the way we seek the perfect partner, a best friend, or an interest group to belong to. We want to be accepted, warts and all.

How comforting it is, then, to know that God has called us His children, and He is waiting to accept us into His fold. When we accept God’s invitation to be part of His family, we receive a new spirit: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father’”(Romans 8:15).

Imagine how wonderful it is to be able to call the Creator of the universe, “Father”. And do you know what you mean to Him? You’re the Apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8).

When we enter into a relationship with God, we rest knowing that our Father loves us more than our earthly parents do, and He will always be with us in our time of deepest need.

God is calling out to you today, regardless of your race, religion, and socioeconomic background. He wants you to be part of His family. He loves you with an everlasting love, and there is nothing He wants more than to live life with you.

 

Click here to view “Editor’s Picks: Top 3 Articles | Idealism

ODB: Joining The Family

April 16, 2014 

READ: Galatians 3:26–4:7 

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. —Galatians 3:26 

Maurice Griffin was adopted when he was 32 years old. He had lived with Lisa and Charles Godbold 20 years earlier as a foster child. Although Maurice was now a man living on his own, adoption had been what the family and he had always longed for. Once they were reunited and the adoption was official, Maurice commented, “This is probably the happiest moment in my life. . . . I’m happy to be home.”

Those of us who have joined the family of God may refer to that time as the happiest moment in our lives. When we trust Christ for salvation, we become God’s children, and He becomes our heavenly Father. The Bible assures us, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26).

As God’s adopted children, we acquire spiritual siblings—our brothers and sisters in Christ—and we all share an eternal inheritance (Col. 1:12). In addition, Jesus’ Spirit indwells our hearts and enables us to pray using the name Abba, Father (Gal. 4:6)—like a child calling, “Daddy.”

To be a child of God is to experience the closeness and security of a Father who loves us, accepts us, and wants to know us. Our adoption into His family is a wonderful homecoming.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, and an alien by birth;
But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
An heir to the mansion, a robe, and a crown. —Buell

God’s arms are always open to welcome anyone home.