There is potentially no greater disservice to the glory of God than conflict inside the church of God. Yet as sin impacts the lives of all people, conflict is to be expected. It is the conduct amidst conflict that generates the greatest testimony for the continuation of relationships and the glory of God. It is this reason that makes books about handling church conflict both necessary and desirable.
At the recommendation of a friend, I recently undertook the reading of Alexander Strauch’s If You Bite and Devour One Another. Recognizing the need for a biblical examination and application of rightly handling conflicts, Strauch seeks to provide readers with a biblical mindset in order that peace and unity within the church body will be the common experience. It is a task that he takes on with a serious demeanor that forces him to deal with the topic truthfully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly.
A Book Above Others
While the availability of books on conflict resolution is prevalent, there are few that are biblically oriented in their interpretation and address. With only ten chapters and limited page space, the author compresses a great deal of information and application into that space. In fact, while the book is lightweight, the reading itself is heavy.
Strauch does not merely lay out the biblical foundation that conflict needs to be rightly handled; most understand that Scripture’s teaching here. Instead, the author gets very practical by applying Scripture to how we handle conflict. With each chapter, Alexander Strauch has chosen to address particular characteristics that one should or should not have when facing conflict. Each chapter is straightforward addressing the following:
- Acting in the Spirit (Galatians 5:15)
- Act in Love (1 Peter 4:8)
- Act in Humility (Philippians 2:5-6, 8)
- Control Anger (James 1:19-20)
- Control the Tongue (Ephesians 4:29-30)
- Control the Criticism (James 4:11)
- Pursue Reconciliation (Matthew 18:15)
- Pursue Peace
- Face False Teachers ( 1 Timothy 6:3-5)
- Face Controversy (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
He does not merely explain that God commands us to do this or that, but he goes further by explaining how those teachings affect conflict confrontation and how to put them into practice.
The emphasis on application makes the book extremely practical for all readers. The author addresses this practically with the proof and support of Scripture that is magnified more greatly by his gift of example, explanation, and exhortation that makes up each chapter.
Conflict is an unfortunate consequence of sin. It’s made even more unfortunate by its prevalence within the church body. It is a reality that we must deal with, and quite truthfully most of us deal with it wrongly. Alexander Strauch has done a wonderful job at bringing forth scriptural truths in order to guide us into a right response of conflict. I assure you this is no easy read. It will confront your heart with a deep conviction. It will be a book that causes you to pause and meditate upon truth. If You Bite and Devour One Another should be part of your reading list and the material contained within should be part of our regular teaching to the church body.