Proverbs 1:3 …. doing what is right and just and fair.
Proverbs 2:9 ….. then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.
Proverbs 21:3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
As long as we talk honestly and openly to anyone who means anything to us, we will, sooner or later, come into a conflict situation. And often, we can do either of two things. Firstly, we can walk away from the conflict, thus missing an opportunity to find a resolution, agreement, or better viewpoint. Or, secondly, we can go into argument mode with a genuine motive of achieving a resolution. When we take the (?) second route, our natural man comes into the fore and we achieve an outcome in a manner that is not pleasing to God.
The book of Proverbs tells us, in the verses above, that God wants His children to ‘[do] what is right and just and fair’. Whenever we are told in the Bible to do something, we can safely assume that God is pointing out to us that it is not in our nature to do that thing. That is, left to our natural selves, we will tend to: do the wrong thing; do what is unjust; and, do what is unfair.
In this Praiseline, I would like to share some pointers about arguing or ‘fighting’ fair in conflicts whenever they should arise, whether between spouses, parent and child, or amongst siblings, family members, or even close friends. For this sharing, I use the words ‘fight’, ‘argument’, ‘discuss’, and ‘constructive dialogue’ interchangeably. , At all times, I will assume that you have first brought the matter before God and that you are choosing to please Him in all you do.
RULES FOR A FAIR FIGHT
1. Identify the real issue of disagreement. This can be difficult as most family conflicts involve more than one issue. And there may not be agreement on what is the central issue of the conflict. First, define the conflict to try and understand it together.
2. Choose the right time. Choose a time that emotional intensity is low, when parties are not tired and angry, perhaps after a time for cooling off.
3. Choose the right place. Choose a neutral territory, which is free from interruption, and allows for a good unhurried conversation.
4. Begin with a positive stroke, which acknowledges and appreciates the value of the other party, even in the matter of the conflict.
5. Stick to the issue. Having completed Rule 1 above properly, do not depart from it, even to a related point. Or else, return to Rule 1 to widen the scope of the issue.
6. Do not bring up the past. You may be tempted to dredge up the past storehouse of anger and frustration. Pray about it together if possible and deal with it before God.
7. Do not attack emotionally vulnerable places. Being close to the other party, watch that you do not launch verbal attacks on sensitivities that you are aware of. Doing so will make future conversations or arguments that much more difficult.
8. Take the other person seriously. Ridiculing and laughing at the other person during an argument or fight is inappropriate, as it is likely to convey that the other’s opinion is worthless, stupid and irrelevant.
9. Express anger non-abusively. Ephesians 4:26 tells us to ‘ Be angry but do not sin…’. We may not be able to control how we feel, but we are accountable for what we do as a result of it. Anger is never an excuse for exercising poor self-control.
10. Do not play games. One of the common games one plays is the martyr, or the ‘poor me’, such that everyone is against you, to earn yourself sympathy.
11. Do not be passively aggressive, which aims at getting back at anyone in indirect, devious ways.
12. Avoid asking explanations of behavior. This is an attempt to place blame. It is better to back off from questions and to work on solutions instead.
13. Avoid labeling and name-calling. This involves antagonizing the other person by calling him or her stupid, ignorant, silly, dumb, square, stubborn, etc.
14. Avoid triangles. It is a common practice for two people who are fighting to attempt to bring in a third party to gain some advantage in the argument.
And these good conduct should include setting out patterns and examples of fairness in constructive dialogue between ourselves. These patterns rather than fighting in an unfair manner, or avoiding all conversations altogether allowing buried hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, which is after conduct this world (Gal. 5:20).