Theron St. John

About Theron St. John

Theron's Blog
Theron is the associate pastor of youth and families at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church and an adjunct professor and academic advisor at Crossroads Bible College in Indiana. He is the author of Something More: Finding the Joy and Purpose of Life and writes regularly on his personal blog.

3 Things I Pray When in a Conflict

Some things in life are inevitable. As the saying goes, three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and change. Yet, recognizing life in a sinful and fallen world requires a fourth certainty: conflict. It is in our families, friendships, communities, and churches. I have observed and noticed this reality in my own life as well.

As Christians, we cannot escape facing conflict, but we can choose how we respond in the midst of conflict. Rather than conflicts becoming an obstacle in our relationships, they can be an opportunity to share the truth of the gospel. James 4:1–12 highlights how the gospel can be proclaimed and portrayed in our conflicts by laying out three biblical truths. These three biblical truths are the three things I pray when in a conflict.

3 Things I Pray When in a Conflict

1.Confess the Source of the Conflict (vv. 1–5)

The ultimate source of the conflicts I face is not the other person but my own heart. Do not misunderstand me; I am not saying the other person never bears any responsibility. We live in a fallen and sinful world so that means we will sin against others and, yes, others will sin against us.

Two more items worth clarifying: not all conflict is bad and not all desires are bad. Conflict can prove fruitful and desires can be glorifying to God just as long as things do not find a place above our devotion to God. Still, we must learn to confess the source of our conflicts. We bear the responsibility for how we respond to possible conflicts.

When our desires and passions are not satisfied, we escalate to conflict. When we do not get our way, we sin, we do not go to God, or we go to God with the wrong motives (4:2). The result is we care more about our selfish desires than God’s desires. We do not put Him first but put Him in the backseat.

We commit spiritual adultery (4:4)! In the midst of conflict, I’ve learned to go to God, confessing to the Lord my sin of selfishness and idolatrous desires, asking Him to work on my heart that I may desire what He desires and may not allow secondary things in my life to become primary.


2.Submit to the Solution of the Conflict (vv. 6–10)

With the problem stated, the next step is to find a solution. Too often, when it comes to conflict the goal for each side is to win the argument. However, such a goal fails to be the solution to the conflict. The solution comes not when someone convinces the other they are right but when both parties look to the One who has made us right with God.

In other words, the solution to our conflicts is found in the gospel of God’s grace. The gospel shows us we are sinners and that we can be saved only by grace because of the person and work of Jesus Christ. We can be brought near to God and He to us because of the gospel. The gospel of grace enables us, by the Holy Spirit, to submit to God and resist the devil (4:7).

The presence of repentance (4:8-9) and humility (4:6, 10) in our actions and affections display the truth we have received the solution. We will not be so hard-pressed to always be right and always win the argument but will care more about the person who has been made in the image of God (see James 3:8-12).

Now, when I face conflicts, I reflect on the grace of God which produces gratitude in my heart. the growing response, then, is to extend that grace to the other person and to care more about them than about winning the argument.


3.Know Your Stance in the Conflict (vv. 11–12)

While we could stop at the solution, James goes on to reveal to us what our stance in the conflict needs to be. In short, our stance is to obey God, not “play” God. We do not approach our relationships or conflicts as if we are in the position of God. We are not the ultimate judge and we certainly do not judge by our opinions but by God’s standard, the Bible.

God is the one who is in authority over all, not us. Our role is to obey Him, loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, our neighbors, and even our enemies. When I grasp the gospel in the midst of a conflict I am facing, I not only extend grace but God’s Word convicts me my role is to obey God in my response, not to “play” God in handing down judgment. When my stance is obedience to God, I rightly deal with the problem and hold firm to the solution.

The next time you encounter a disagreement with a family member, you argue with a friend, or contend with a fellow church member, how will you respond? Let the Word of God guide you and may the truth of the gospel point you to confess the source on the conflict, submit to the solution of the conflict, and know your stance in the conflict. Pray these things as the Holy Spirit enables you to apply them.

By | 2018-07-01T23:49:04+00:00 July 2nd, 2018|

5 Qualities to Look for in a Potential Spouse

There I was in my first relationship. Although I had only known the young woman for a short time, she seemed to be a godly gal. She professed faith in Christ, attended church regularly, and served in the church. Yet, it became apparent she lacked spiritual maturity. She failed to take responsibility in pertinent areas and ignored wise counsel. Soon, our relationship was over.

It was during this time, too, I began to notice a repeated refrain echoing among my fellow unmarried Christian brothers and sisters. When considering the type of person they were looking to pursue, the common answer was, “I am looking for a good Christian”. While the desire to find a good Christian is commendable, it is insufficient unless one describes what a good Christian looks like.

5 Qualities to Look for in a Potential Spouse

Upon dealing with my first true breakup, I intentionally set out to think through the type of person I was looking for. From my time searching the Scriptures, 5 overarching characteristics became my framework: holiness, humility, honesty, hospitality, and humor.


1. Someone Who Pursues Holiness

The Christian life is a call to pursue holiness. In 1 Peter 1:15–16 we are commanded “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” As Christians, we are called to imitate our God in our conduct by keeping His Word and living distinct from the world. In living holy lives, we are to prioritize purity.

Someone who pursues a life of holiness is seeking to please God with their lives. Their life will be characterized by confession of sin and dependence upon Christ. The one who pursues holiness will prioritize time with God in Scripture and through prayer as well as commitment to the local church. Look for someone who is committed to their own sanctification.


2. Someone Who Displays Humility

The reality is we all fall short of this first characteristic. Holiness doesn’t mark every moment of our lives. The second characteristic takes this into account. Our response when we sin is not to give up on pursuing holiness or to simply try harder. Our response when we fail in this pursuit of holiness is to look to Jesus Christ. The cross of Christ reminds us we are not justified by our own righteousness or holiness. We are saved by the grace of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ in the gospel.

The person who displays humility has a repentant heart and a teachable spirit. They don’t argue with the truth of God’s Word, but they submit to it. This begins to show through their response to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). A mind of humility strives to be like Christ, thinking of others and looking to other’s interests first and God’s glory ultimately (Philippians 2:1–11). Find someone who has been humbled by the gospel.


3. Someone Who Speaks Honestly

The gospel not only changes our attitudes; the gospel also changes our words. After introducing the subject of the new life in Christ, the Apostle Paul begins to detail what this new life looks like, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25). While the immediate context is to the church, the principle can be applied to any interaction we have with others.

Speaking honestly means more than just not lying; speaking honestly means speaking truthfully as well as speaking transparently. As you consider someone as a potential spouse, have conversations on the importance of transparency and accountability in a relationship. Honesty is a crucial element in a relationship that prioritizes holiness and displays humility.


4. Someone Who Practices Hospitality

The pursuit of marriage is not meant to be focused on self. The biblical vision of relationships is Christ-centered and others-oriented. One avenue this outward-focused life can be seen is through the practice of hospitality. Hospitality is about having an open heart and home. One of the qualifications for a church leader, someone who is to be an example to the flock they oversee, is that they be hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2). 1 Peter 4:9 tells us how we are to do this, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling”.

The person who practices hospitality opens their heart to others and welcomes them into their life. They have a caring heart and a generous spirit. If they are considering other’s good and God’s glory, then they will be a person who practices hospitality. Pray to God for someone who cares like that.


5. Someone Who Values Humor

If you are striving to be the type you are looking for by pursuing these first four characteristics, then you are doing well. But I believe one necessary characteristic remains: humor. While Scripture may not explicitly uphold this characteristic on the same level as the previous four characteristics, humor still has an important place in a relationship. Proverbs 31:25 mentions laughter and Proverbs 17:22 values a joyful heart as good medicine.

A person with a sense of humor is able to bring some ease during tight situations and keep things in perspective from time to time. When couples both value humor they are able to joke around and laugh together during high and low seasons of life.

Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, as you look for a person who exhibits these five characteristics, make the same commitment yourself. If you desire a spouse who pursues holiness, displays humility, speaks honestly, practices hospitality, and values humor, be sure you are striving to be and grow in those areas too. May these characteristics mark you both and your future marriage!

By | 2018-05-16T02:16:28+00:00 May 22nd, 2018|


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