Notice Philippians 2:4 (Ph), "None of you should think only of his own affairs, but consider other people's interests also."
The word "consider" in Greek is the word "Scopos" – where we get scope from, like the scope on a rifle, telescope, microscope, stethoscope. Scopos literally means "to focus on" to pay attention to.
If you want to make peace with somebody, you've got to change the focus from just looking at what you need, your hurts, your needs, your wants, your fears, your doubts and begin to focus on their needs, hurts, wants, doubts and fears.
When somebody is hurting you, as I've said many times: hurting people hurt people. The reason people hurt others is because they're hurting inside. So often you have to look beyond the hurt that you're receiving and ask, what is hurting them that's causing them to hurt me? So in order to get to the issue, you focus on that person. That's what it means to empathize.
Now this is not natural, because when you are angry you are naturally focused on yourself. When I'm ticked off I'm thinking about my needs, my hurts, how you have abused my rights, how you have hurt me. When I'm angry all I can think of is me. I have to make a mental shift in which I choose to consider, to focus on, your needs, your doubts, your fears, your interests.
And once you sit down at this peace conference with this person you've had conflict with, you say, "We're not going to avoid it anymore. We're not going to sweep it under the cover. We're not going to just appease each other and pretend it's OK. Let's deal with it." You first listen and ask yourself, what are his needs, what are her needs, what is hurting them?
One of the real values of conflict is that when you resolve it, it always creates greater understanding. Through conflict you work out what each other is like. Couples that have had tremendous conflict and have worked it out, actually have greater understanding of each other than those who don't.
The key to intimacy is conflict and if you never have any conflict you always deal on the surface level and not really how you have major differences. But when you deal with conflict in a positive way and resolve it, it creates greater understanding (I understand you more, you understand me more) and that creates intimacy. The very thing that you think is often going to separate you, if you'll go through that tunnel of conflict, will actually bring you closer and make you stronger than if you'd just ignored the problem, or hid it, or pretended it didn't exist.
Just a thought from the front porch…