Falling into the trap of strife is dangerous. It's very easy to become offended and lash out against the one who hurt your feelings. Offense, greed, jealousy, and selfishness are the basis of strife . James 4:1-2 (Amp) says, "What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members? You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask." Conflict will build resentments, destroy relationships, and create an atmosphere of anger.
The arrogance of being right or having the last word generates controversy. We disagree over the smallest things, like: who ate the last piece of cake; the location of a store; the color of a shirt; or what was said in the last conversation. We could go on and on and you could most likely think of a few yourself. Generally that little 'thing', isn't very important and probably doesn't really matter. Believing we must have the last say or argue our belief is an expression of pride.
Families from all walks of life, have discord among the members. Some of those animosities were created years and years ago by relatives that started feuding. And, today, no one knows what that conflict was about. Holding grudges and continuing in resentments, will build a spiritual stronghold and keep people from walking in the promises and blessings of God. James 3:16 says, "For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices." If you could stop and reflect on past grievances, you would find confusion, rebellion, and all kinds of evil. Rick Renner, (Author/Pastor) described the meaning of evil like this: "The word 'evil' is from the word 'phaulos' describing something that is terribly bad or exceedingly vile. We get the word 'foul' from this Greek word. James is saying that where envy and strife are permitted to operate, thus producing confusion and anarchy in relationships, they ultimately yield a foul-smelling situation!"
So, how does one avoid strife, you ask?
First, Recognize strife immediately and refuse to participate. Philippians 2:3a (Amp) " Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance..." We must decide to lay down pride and selfishness. Love does not insist on it's own way. (1 Cor. 13) Secondly, prefer one another. Philippians 2:3b (Amp) "...Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]." Letting others express their opinion, ideas, or concerns without verbal disagreement, only demonstrates that you value their right to have a different opinion. Let's face it we're not going to agree on everything! The truth is, the Bible is the only Truth!
Beware of the dangers of strife. It can lead you down the wrong path, causing pain, sickness, heartache, bitterness, poverty, and despair. Consider, for a moment, if you've been in any "strife" situations. Take this time to ask for forgiveness from God. Repent. and decide not to do it again. Now, forgive those that were involved and let it go. As the Spirit directs, you ask them to forgive you for holding resentment. Mat. 6:14-15 "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." And Eph. 4:32 "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Choose life Not strife!
Scriptures for avoiding Strife!
Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Prov. 13:10 Arrogance produces only quarreling, but those who take advice gain wisdom.
Prov. 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Prov. 17:1 Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.
Prov. 26:17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
Prov. 26:21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
Prov. 18:6 A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.
Rom. 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
Prov. 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Prov. 18:25 A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.
Prov. 20:3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
Prov. 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
We all know that heat is regulated by the fuel. Adding wood to the fire in the fireplace makes the fire last longer and become stronger. The more you add, the flames become extensive and enduring. And of course, if we fail to add the wood, the fire eventually dies.
Proverbs 26:20-21 GNT "Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarreling stops. Charcoal keeps the embers glowing, wood keeps the fire burning, and troublemakers keep arguments alive."
I came to realize, recently, this same scripture can apply to what we say over our circumstances. Facing a serious illness, extreme need for finances, conflict in major life decisions, or simple daily matters are powered by what we say repeatedly. In essence, we fuel the fire by our mouth and whatever we allow to build the fire the longest becomes the strongest! When we keep reciting the problem, it keeps growing.
Many people don't believe that words are forceful. But the Bible tells us differently. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof". (Pro. 18:21) And "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Mt. 12:37) This explains how important it is WHAT we say! Think about this, our words determine the outcome of our circumstance. Since it behooved God to create the World by what He spoke, it's also required of us to consider our creation by what we speak. Rom. 4:17b "...God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did."
What we say produces a consequence. Not only for others but for ourselves as well. Faith filled words are powerful and life giving. Fearful words bring failure and defeat. A person that voices the Word over something, then in their second breath is contradictory, is like the double minded man mentioned in James Chapter 1. Their allegiance is divided because of sincerity, conflicted between belief and unbelief, thinking God will help while at the same time giving up all hope. Truth is, they will get nothing! (Read James Chapter 3)
Smith Wigglesworth said, "Voice your position in God and you will be surrounded by all the resources of God in times of trial." Expression where we stand in God, in faith, determines whether or not we will be victorious. Because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Mat. 12:34) What we say reveals what we truly believe.
Today, evaluate your confession about your circumstance. Are you blaming God or are you praising Him for your deliverance? Are you talking about the report of your health or finances to everyone or confessing His supply to the need! Is your mouth a well spring of blessing or cursing? Your speech is prophetically declaring death or life! Make a decision today to watch the Words of your mouth. Speak what God says about you and your life! Take your God given authority in the Word of God creating His best. Let's fuel the fire of faith by confessing the Word of God! Hope says, I can have it. Faith says, I already have it!
We've all heard the old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me." The response was to bullies on the playground that called us names. The reply was to imply they might be able to hurt us by physical force, but their insults would not. America values 'Freedom of Speech, so people are quick with expressing what's on their mind. Whether it's an opinion about world events, another person, or just how we feel, it's uttered without restrictions regardless of repercussions. In fact, in our culture today, we support the irresponsible use of words through music, movies or in the public. Most individuals think nothing of the foul language that's expressed. Because we've become desensitized, by our consistent hearing of it, we do not notice it and we allow it to become common place.
As a Christian, words are extremely important, especially to God. Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." Since God created the world by speaking, then utterance must be significant. What this scripture means, is that we frame our future by what we say. That's why it's important to think before vocalizing. You know, we don't always have to say everything we think about!
Do you know of someone that has been affected by what others have told them? Perhaps a parent that spoke negatively to a child, telling them "You're not going to amount to anything, you're such a loser, you lazy no good kid."; A teacher that said, "You're such a failure, what's the matter with your brain? When God passed out brains you must have thought He said trains and you said no thanks." If this degrading talk is consistent, they begin to believe what's been said. That's why the Word of God says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Prov. 4:23) It's critical that we guard what goes into our heart, because our life is shaped by what we let in. We should be protective of the movies we watch, the music we listen to or the conversation with which we yield.
Not only it is our obligation to protect our ears, but we must put a guard on our mouth. Proverbs 21:23 "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles." Most of us are praying and believing God for a specific thing. We can trust Him and be in faith when we pray. But we must remember, to retain the blessing of the Lord it's contingent upon our mouth. It's easy to loose faith and our blessings, when our mouth complains or talks about the problem. In Mark 11:22-24 Jesus says, "....Have faith in God [constantly].Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]." Don't lose the answer you've received or the miracles because of opposing conversation. Remember Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue..." We want blessing not cursing!
Take a look and see what's enthroned on your heart. You decide by what's coming out of your mouth. "For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45) Make a quality decision today to place the Word of God in your heart. Heb. 4:12 "For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart." Gods Word is Life, Choose Life!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."