Strife, not a word that is heard in conversation often. Yet, when I tell you what it means, we all know exactly what strife is. It means to have conflict, antagonism, quarrel, struggle, clash, conflict, competition, disagreement, discord, division, opposition, rivalry, fight etc. Talk about a unity breaker, strife is a big one!
Strife is listed amongst other big relationship breakers, like anger, jealousy, hostility, disputes etc in Gal 5:19-21 (AMP) and comes with a really important warning:
“Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. “
“…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ]. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:2-4 AMP)
Proverbs 20:3 tells us a wise approach to strife:
“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”
Strife disrupts our spiritual stability for three reasons:
- It breaks down relationships. Hebrews 12:4 encourages us to “follow peace with all men” which means we as believers are to promote peace and avoid strife of any kind. We are responsible for pursuing peace (like a hunter) in relationships, looking for anything you can do to promote peace. I am not responsible for the behavior of others, but I am responsible for my own behavior, what I do and for pursuing peace in my relationships.
- It is a trap of the devil (James 3:16) Whenever there is forward movement in the spiritual realm, the devil uses strife to disrupt the momentum. Look at Abraham and Lot in Gen 13:1-9 and Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:1-2. It is when we have real spiritual breakthroughs that the strongholds of the enemy are threatened and He uses strife to lay the foundation for greed, jealousy, covetousness and anger to come about. This inevitably leads to disruption, division and confusion.
- Without a doubt the most dangerous thing about strife, is that it hampers our relationship with the Lord. The Holy Spirit does not hang around where there is strife (Eph 4:29-31), instead, any form of discord in relationships would grieve the Holy Spirit. So strife interferes with the anointing of the Holy Spirit in our lives and hampers our presence with the Lord. We can see this happen when we are inwardly upset, bitter, angry or offended. We battle to enter into the anointing of the Holy Spirit in that situation and when others may be blessed by God’s presence in that same situation, we are not.
Keeping our spiritual life strong, means making sure we avoid strife in our relationships.
Here are three good antidotes to strife:
- Love: Prov 10:12(NLT) “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.”
- Humility: Prov 13:10(NLT) “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.”
- Being slow to anger: Prov 15:18(NLT) “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.”
Lord help me to see and recognize strife in my life straight away. I know that there are times I have ignored the effect of strife in my life and been slow to make peace, no more Lord. Help me to be a person that seeks after peace like a hunter for his prey. Let me follow after peace in my relationships and not entertain strife, or create strife, or allow strife in my environment. I recognize that I cannot be like the world’s people around me that promote strife, arguments and disagreements. You call me to a higher standard of love, patience and humility, a peace maker in the world around me.