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What Causes Conflict?
By Rick Warren

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

You probably don’t like conflict. Most people try to avoid it as much as possible! But conflict is inevitable in life—because no one is perfect.

But if you want to build a better future and pursue your purpose, God calls you to “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone” (Colossians 3:13 NIV).

Before you can learn healthy ways to respond to conflict, you need to know the common causes of conflict. In Nehemiah 5, you find four common causes:

1. Unmet basic needs. Unmet needs can be physical, emotional, relational, sexual, or financial.

In Nehemiah's time, it was a physical need: People were hungry. They were working to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem but encountered a famine. The people said, “We have such large families. We need more food to survive” (Nehemiah 5:2 NLT). 

2. Falling behind. When you feel like you’re not making any progress, it’s easy to become cranky. And that’s always a good setup for conflict.

The people in Jerusalem were going deeper and deeper in debt during the famine because goods were in short supply and prices were inflated. They said, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine” (Nehemiah 5:3 NLT). They couldn’t keep up!

3. Insensitive leaders. Conflict is inevitable when the people who have the power don’t do something about the problem.  

In addition to famine, the people of Israel were barely surviving because of insensitive leaders: “We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes” (Nehemiah 5:4 NLT). Even though they were in a famine they couldn’t control, the leadership wasn’t giving anyone a tax break.

4. Feeling powerless to change things. It can be frustrating when you see other people thriving around you while you’re unable to make ends meet. People all around the world feel this way.

In Nehemiah’s time, the wealthy landowners exploited the poor. They even bought the people’s children as slaves! The people said, “We must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live . . . and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others” (Nehemiah 5:5 NLT).

Now that you know the causes of conflict, you need to know the biblical way to respond. Tomorrow we’ll look at three ways to earn the respect of others during times of conflict.

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This devotional © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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