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!
Just imagine taking a tube of toothpaste and squeezing it until it's empty. Now, let's see if we can put it back into the tube. You're right that's not possible. The other day I was texting on my phone, and just as I pushed the 'send' button, I noticed a mistake. Unfortunately, my phone doesn't allow me to terminate the 'send'. I couldn't take it back. The words had been sent. Being unable to put the paste back into the tube is the same for retrieving anything that's been said. It can't be done!
Whether we are speaking, texting, or emailing, once the statement has been communicated, there is no bringing it back. That's why it's very important to be sure before we transmit our thoughts into words, we double check them. Not just for the spelling, but to be certain we're conveying a spirit of love and gentleness. How easy it is to be frustrated or angry and speak our mind with regrets later. I was always told, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything".
Proverbs 12:18 "There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health".
Proverbs 10:19 "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise."
Proverbs 15:1-2 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness."
These scriptures express the importance of what we say! Too many times we talk without thinking, voicing fears, opinions, anger, or foolish things. Declaring something automatically sets in motion a process to accomplish what was spoken. Words have power. What we say is impacting. It can tear down, hurt, destroy, wound, or build up, being encouraging, enlightening, and empowering. Just like Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue,...."
How can I gain control over what I say, you ask? The first and foremost way is watch what goes in you. Jesus said, "...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45) Whatever we are feeding our spirit is what enters our heart. Spending long periods of time watching television programs or movies, consistent playing of video games, listening to worldly music, companionship with unbelievers, or even frequent reading of ungodly publications can influence our spirit man. These things can have a bearing on belief and faith. The Word says, "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". We build our faith by listening to the preached Word of God. In the same manner we build our doubts, fears, and insecurities by what we hear. Instead of filling ourself with the world, we need to be packing in God's Word.
Joshua 1:8 (GW) says, "Never stop reciting these teachings. You must think about them night and day so that you will faithfully do everything written in them. Only then will you prosper and succeed." The more we exercise this scripture, the more successful we will be in our life. Not only will this help with what's coming out of our mouth, but also how we handle problems. Remember - We can't take back what we said, so watch what we speak! "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight." Psalm 19:14
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."