‘I wouldn’t be paranoid if so many people weren’t out to get me,’ I joked to myself as I threw another training flyer in the trash titled, ‘Dealing with Difficult People.’ There must be a cunning reason that marketers have targeted me with hundreds of flyers teaching the means to deal with difficult people. Big bucks are to be made selling strategies for dealing with the whiny, selfish, ungrateful, and difficult people in our lives. Interpersonal conflict can be the most unpleasant experiences causing sleeplessness, eating disorders, anxiety, and more. So we are often tempted to find satisfaction making the other person at fault for our misery.
But what if the conflict is not interpersonal, but intrapersonal, where then could you turn for help? Inter-collegiate sport is competition with another college. Intra-collegiate sport is competition within the same college. Inter-personal conflict is disagreement with another person. Intra-personal conflict is disagreement with your self!
What if you are the difficult person you have to deal with? What if you honestly confessed to yourself that you have to deal with your attitude, your selfishness, your lust, your sin? What if it became clear that the problem following you around since day one is not others, but in fact yourself? It is said that ‘only the sane people talk to themselves,’ for it is those with a bad conscience that ‘cannot live with themselves.’ But what if you cannot live with yourself? What if you will not talk to your self? What if you will not listen to yourself? Where can you then turn? Paul writes about his intrapersonal conflict in book of Romans and offers God’s resolution, the only resolution.
9) I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10) The commandment which was for life, this I found to be for death; 11) for sin, finding occasion through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. 12) Therefore the law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good.13) Did then that which is good become death to me? May it never be! But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, was producing death in me through that which is good; that through the commandment sin might become exceedingly sinful. 14) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin. 15) For I don't know what I am doing. For I don't practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do. 16) But if what I don't desire, that I do, I consent to the law that it is good. 17) So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. 18) For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don't find it doing that which is good. 19) For the good which I desire, I don't do; but the evil which I don't desire, that I practice. 20) But if what I don't desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. 21) I find then the law that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present. 22) For I delight in God's law after the inward man, 23) but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. 24) What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? 25) I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God's law, but with the flesh, sin's law.Romans 7:9-25 (WEB)
To be sure, we all have interpersonal conflict and others are at least a small or perhaps a great source of hurt in our lives. However, has the gospel exposed your intrapersonal conflict to yourself? Have you found relief from the greatest hurt of being a sinner yourself? Have you found intrapersonal conflict resolution through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ?
Receive the forgiveness of Christ already given to every single one of his chosen people!