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

Meddling Hands

August 6, 2013

Meddling Hands

Proverbs 26:17
Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.

This is an interesting proverb like so many of them are. What happens when you seize a dog by its ears? There is pretty good chance you could get bit. Dogs are rather sensitive around their ears and so are people when others meddle where they have no business. We often get rather wise in our own eyes and think we have the insight and answer into another person’s problem. It may seem so obvious to us, so why shouldn’t we just go and set them straight? God wants us to learn a principle through this parable; not everyone else’s business is our business. There will be times He may use you to council and offer insight to someone that is seeking advice and help, but often we get a little premature with our opinions and our perceived wisdom. We are going to set someone straight rather they have asked us too or not. There are times we need to bite our tongue and just stay out of someone else’s affairs. We may end up causing more damage than good. Even if you have the right answers, there is wisdom in letting others learn from their own experience.
There have been times when my wife and I have been fussing with one another in the presence of our parents and we may have been hoping that mom or dad might jump in on our defense. There have been many times that I have seen my mom, especially, bite her tongue. I knew she had an opinion, but there was a wisdom that kept her from sharing it. She knows that the minute she sides with my wife or myself, she is going to alienate the other. She has no doubt learned from experience that it is better that we two work it out than that she interjects her opinion. She has learned not to grab the dog by the ears. Too many times we can end up causing more damage than we do good by getting involved in things that don’t directly concern us.
Take care in the advice and the opinions you give. Use wisdom and discretion when dealing with the affairs of others. The better council might be as Jesus offered the two brothers who came to him arguing of their inheritance in Luke 12:13-15, “And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Jesus didn’t meddle in who was wrong and who was right; He spoke to the spirit that was at work in both of their hearts, the spirit of covetousness. Rather than getting involved in the issues of others we may be wiser to reinforce the principles of God’s word. Usually our issues are with the heart and not with just surface agendas. Be careful where you meddle.

Blessings,
kent

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