Men are always seeking to devour
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
– Acts 20:29-30
Motives are sometimes hard to figure out, but they are important when dealing with men causing problems in a church. Are they working from a pure heart in hopes of helping the church, or are they seeking to draw men away to themselves? In other words, we must try to discern whether those in conflict love the church or themselves.
It is tempting to think that the worst problems for a church come from outside—but that is rarely the case. Often, the pressure from outside the church reveals conflict within that has been dormant and unseen.
This truth is hard to deal with even when we know it. We, rightly and in love, overlook many faults in one another. We bear with one another. We forgive one another. We rebuke one another. We weep with one another. We rejoice with one another. And then, against our great desire for unity and peace, it is broken by one of our own.
The worldly way of dealing with conflict is to try to ignore it. Pretending that nothing is the matter is a sure sign that severe problems are afoot. But to deal with it head on is also unpleasant because it requires judging the motives of a man. Nevertheless, we must deal with conflicts head on, or else they will leave festering wounds in the body that end in division and brokenness.