North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

I’d rather run 20 miles to get out of a dispute than half-a-mile to get into one. Conflict comes to all of us and your response to it determines its value in terms of the lesson learned. There once was a man who stole the life-savings of a number of retired people. He posed as their friend and bilked them out of millions of dollars. When interviewed, one of the women said she made it a practice not to hate anyone, but she felt she would have to make an exception. She couldn’t find it in her heart to forgive him. We can all sympathize with this lady. Even the most mature Christian struggles with forgiveness at times. Yet, I have come to realize hatred only hurts the one who hates. It doesn’t hurt the one who is hated. The best way to deal with hatred is to forgive as we have been forgiven. Jesus set the example for us when he was dying on the cross; he asked God to forgive those responsible for his death. James 3:17-18 says, “Wisdom from heaven is pure and gives peace; it is peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy. And goodness is the harvest that is produced from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace.”
Think about the last few weeks; has something happened between you and another person that calls for your forgiveness. It seems that God is not as interested in how often we forgive another person, as much as He’s interested in our truly forgiving them. The word translated “forgive” means to send away. Anytime resentment is nurtured and harbored in the heart of a person, it’ll probably turn into a grudge. It’s a natural tendency to want to be forgiven when we hurt someone else. Yet, if someone hurts us, we might find holding a grudge to be the natural thing to do. This is the kind of resentment we need to send away.
There’s a story from the Book of Acts about two characters that parted ways—Paul and Barnabas. These two New Testament leaders of faith had such sharp disagreements; they parted company. Acts 15:39 says, “They argued so much that they left each other”. Paul and Barnabas were just as human as we are. Even the most respected of all men and women find it difficult to iron out their differences. This is true about all relationships including marriage.
Divorce is sometimes the result of irreconcilable differences. Maybe you’ve seen this played out in your own life or the life of someone else. Sometimes the only way for two people to be themselves is to part ways. God didn’t see fit to send an angel to clarify the issue for Paul and Barnabas and it’s unlikely that He’ll do it for us. No revelation came to them as the right course of action. Perhaps God sometimes leaves us in the confusion so that we can learn the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable. It’s best two people go their separate ways if the compromise and negotiations are never good enough for one or the other. A person will never reach their potential if held back by resentment and continuous strife. Unresolved conflict that continues to exist in a relationship is like a ticking “time-bomb”. No matter who is “right” or who is “wrong”, both parties are in the wrong if they don’t handle their differences with grace.
The good results in any partnership that ends; should be seen as a blessing. This is what helps us endure the emotional pain. Children of divorced couples are often the only good that comes out of a union. So, with this thought, divorcees can know that even though their marriage may not have been to the right person, God brought blessings out of this part of their life.
Divorce is never the ideal solution to a troubled marriage. And it should never even be considered an option until all possible solutions are exhausted or until one person is unfaithful, or walks away. I would never condone divorce, because it’s a sin. But some people are not meant to be in a marriage relationship and some can’t live with each other. God will forgive us as we confess our sins. The Bible says, “He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins” (1 John 1:19). God can heal your heart and He can heal your soul. You must trust Him enough to let Him help you. Seek out reliable Christian counsel and remember Scripture says, “Be at peace with all people. Live a holy life” (Heb. 12:14). If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).
If you have to part ways with a close friend, spouse, or business partner; be respectful and conduct yourself in peace, even in your disagreements. You can’t force another person to stay against their will and expect harmony. But a little humility goes a long way.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and is a Captain (CPT) in the U.S. Army Reserves Chaplain Corp. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Aug 17 2014. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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