Strife

November 22, 2013

Strife

1 Corinthians 3:3
for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

Isn’t it unfortunate that this statement so often defines us as we try to walk and live spiritual lives? Strife comes into to pollute so many of our relationships, both spiritual and natural. Really it is the outward manifestation of an inward condition. James 3: 14 and 16 in the King James version speaks of strife with this: “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth… “For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work.“ The Amplified version identifies more of the root causes of this strife, “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth… For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” Verses 17-18 of the Amplified version goes on to say, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” We all know what it is like to be around a contentious person that is trying to provoke strife. It is often difficult to ignore and continually walk away from because it is continually antagonizing and provoking you. Strife is described in Galatians 5:20 as an attribute of the flesh, but it is one that has a hard time existing by itself. It needs someone to partner with. It needs an adversary and someone to contend with. It loves company and to get others caught up in the fray.
What are strife’s root causes? James has already identified bitterness, envy, selfishness and self-seeking. Proverbs 15:8 says, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but [he that is] slow to anger appeaseth strife.” Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:14 tells us, “The beginning of trouble is like letting out water. So stop arguing before fighting breaks out.” Have you ever noticed how strife can result in a diarrhea of the mouth? We get started and before we know it, all kinds of putrid things are spewing out, which usually only serves to bring the same vile venom out of the other’s mouth.
We know that the perpetrator of this strife is demonic in nature and spirit, and yet we so easily fall into the snare that serves to only hurt, divide separate us. Disunity and strife strikes at the heart of family, fellowship and community. It has destroyed families, marriages, churches, and nations. It is at the root of our wars. In spite of its immensely destructive power we continually allow ourselves to be manipulated by it. Perhaps it is destroying the relationship you have with the person or persons you started out loving. It can only be stopped as we realize and acknowledge within ourselves the weakness and the flesh that is giving place to this deceptive destroyer. It needs our flesh to feed off of to even exist. The more we can enter into Christ and walk by the Spirit, the less power and influence it can have. It needs our ego, our pride, our selfishness, our jealousy and envy. It needs our anger, meddling, gossiping, and tattling to fan its flames.
Philippians 2:2-4 says this, “2Then give me true joy by thinking the same thoughts. Keep having the same love. Be as one in thoughts and actions. 3Nothing should be done because of pride or thinking about yourself. Think of other people as more important than yourself. 4Do not always be thinking about your own plans only. Be happy to know what other people are doing.” Strife has very little to build on when our motives are based in unselfish love toward one another. If we all have this mind to live for and bless one another, then the flesh has little place because our selfishness and pride aren’t in the way. Love the person that is so intent on striving against you. Return good for evil, compliment for insult and be of a gentle and quiet spirit. It is a spiritual battle waged through human agents. See it for what it is and let the weapons of your warfare not be natural, but mighty through the Spirit to the tearing down of strongholds.
Moses lost his entrance into the promise land because he responded out of the flesh to the strife of the people at the waters of Meribah in the wilderness. Responding to strife in the flesh will always cause us to lose by robbing us of the higher way. Let love rule in your hearts, mercy and peace in your actions and willingness to count others above yourself in your thinking.
“Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9).

Blessings,
kent

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