As we approach Remembrance Day this year, I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore what the Bible says about peace and conflict. Peace and conflict are two big topics that can span from small disagreements, all the way to World Wars. There may be big differences between these two types of conflicts, but many of the same Biblical teachings apply.
In this blog, therefore, I’m largely going to focus upon everyday conflict that we all face – but do reflect upon how these same Bible passages would apply if you were involved in a larger scale conflict situation.
I also have a video coming soon exploring these passages – so make sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel to see that!
So, what does the Bible say about peace and conflict?
We are called to strive for peace
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”Hebrews 12:14
“They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.”1 Peter 3:11
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”Matthew 5:9
I feel like these Bible passages are a very self-explanatory opening. We are called to strive for peace – peace is our goal.
How we speak is important
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”James 1:19
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”Proverbs 16:28
When talking about conflict, looking at what the Bible says about speech is really interesting. Just in these two verses we see mention of conflict and anger in relation to the way that we speak. If we are working to avoid unnecessary conflict, then we definitely need to consider how we speak to other people – are we overly defensive? Do we partake in gossip? Are we easily angered? Do we take the time to listen to other people?
Respond to conflict with blessing
“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.”1 Thessalonians 5:15
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”Romans 12:17-21
How we respond to conflict, even if we didn’t cause it, is just as important (if not more important) that how we work to avoid conflict. Here, the message of the Bible is clear – do not repay evil for evil, do not seek revenge. We are called to be different, set apart, holy. Our human nature may want to respond in anger, to say something hurtful because we feel hurt, to lash out. But God calls us to respond in a different way, to overcome evil with good, to love our enemy and respond to the conflict we face with love and kindness.
Forgive, forgive, forgive
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”Matthew 18:21-22
When we talk about conflict, it’s impossible to ignore the Bible’s teachings about forgiveness. From the world’s perspective, this idea is quite extreme. To be able to forgive someone who has hurt you again and again and again is not easy, but with the Holy Spirit empowering us we are able to forgive – just as God forgave us.
I do think it’s important to mention here, that forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation. By all means it can, but if the person who has caused conflict or hurt against you has not repented, it is perfectly ok, and often very wise, not to return to the relationship you had prior to the hurt, or to put yourself in a vulnerable position around them. Boundaries are your friends.
What is your favourite Bible verse that reveals what the Bible says about peace and conflict?
Other blog posts you might enjoy…
- What the Bible says about fear
- Creative Prayer Ideas for Autumn
- 5 modern day idols you might be worshipping