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hope for churches in stress


Any conflict, small or large, is like throwing a rock into a pond. The ripples wash over others in widening circles of dissension.

When conflict occurs, and others hear about it, the contending parties want to be sure their point of view is heard. So they begin to whisper, to talk with whomever will listen about their role in the conflict, which they tend to describe in the best light possible.

Typically, this whispering involves unfiltered conversation about other people with details not confirmed as true. Whispering draws others into the dispute and, before long, a whole family, workplace, or church is roiled in discord. In fact, the whispering that follows conflict may be as hurtful as the conflict itself.

The whispering often ensnares anyone who attempts to help; they, too, are blamed and criticized (Prov. 26:17). It is hard, if not impossible, to mediate conflict without any missteps, especially when the conflict is intense. To be the brunt of criticism as a result of well-intentioned efforts to give care is painful and disheartening.

Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:39). When someone starts whispering against us, we are not to retaliate with a whispering campaign of our own. We are to endure misunderstanding and false or half-true accusations without responding in kind.

This is extremely hard to do, but this is the promise: “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases (Prov. 26:20).”

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