Strife

<<conflict, disputes>>

Strife is a strong and ongoing conflict over a fundamental issue, often involving bitterness and sometimes violence. Strife alienates friends, within families it divides and can lead to lifelong emotional scars, between nations war can result while among believers, the church’s testimony is tarnished and Christ is dishonoured.

The cause of strife is underlying sin, with pride a major contributor in “...the evil desires at war within you” (Prov 13:10; Jas 4:1). Other reasons include an unteachable spirit in one or both parties and when individual expectations are not being met with people feeling threatened, ignored or overlooked. 

Anger and frustration cause many emotionally harmful words to be hastily spoken, (sometimes being accompanied by physical abuse). These can leave lasting wounds on the victim’s personality, for our words have in them the power to give or take life (Prov 18:21). Endeavour not to let any disagreement get out of hand, stopping strife before it

Where there is strife, there is pride                                   – Proverbs 13:10

starts, and “Don’t meddle in another’s quarrel” (Prov 17:14, 20:3, 26:17). With self-control, tolerance and trying to see things from the other’s perspective, seek to resolve the issue while it is still in the early stages, not waiting for it to grow and cause irreparable damage, for strife destroys others (2 Cor 12:20; Gal 5:15).

The Bible says, don’t provoke another or quarrel, rather do what leads to peace, being mature and secure enough to overlook insults, because strife is a fruit of the old nature (Prov 12:16, 19:11; Rom 13:13, 14:19; Gal 5:19,20,26; 2 Tim 2:24). Ask is this really worth losing a friend over? In a month’s time will this seemingly major issue – ‘not-seeing-eye-to-eye’ – still hold any significance? If it is a principle of Scripture that is being questioned it should be addressed and defended with an attitude of humility, not to prove you are right, but seeking reconciliation.

Our emphasis should be on meeting our responsibilities to others rather than demanding our rights are met. In humility, Abraham took the initiative to avoid further strife by giving the choice to his younger nephew, Lot, who (to his own detriment) picked what appeared to be the best and easiest option for

Endeavour to ‘be at peace’ with everybody                                       – 1 Thessalonians 5:13

himself (Gen 13:8-13). Isaac, rather than quarrelling about the two wells his servants had already dug, moved on to a third, for the sake of peace (Gen 26:19-22). Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” – those who actively try to resolve hostilities (Mt 5:9).  He Himself established peace between God and us because of our sin (Rom 5:1).

The gospel will bring peace to the individual yet often division within the extended family – if some are not Christians because of the differing values (Mt 10:21,34-36). The God-honouring response should be one of love and seeking for reconciliation. Although Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed, it seems later they resolved the issue and worked harmoniously together (Act 15:36-40; 1 Cor 9:6; Col 4:10; Phm 1:24). 

See also: conflict, confront, humility, not being ministered to, offence, peace, quarrel, reconciliation, relationships, resolve/resolution (2), responsible/responsibilities, stress, tension, tongue, words.


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