Tag Archives: Strife

Strife and Security

He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction. -Proverbs 17:19 KJV

I enjoy movies. Good storytelling goes a long way.

In Marvel’s Antman, the main character, Scott Lang -a recently released convict – is tasked with breaking into a man’s house to test the security.

This major plot point reminds me of today’s verse. The man who hired Scott was very sure of his security, that no one could break it, but it set up the rest of the film of mystery, intrigue, crime (and crime fighting), and violence and destruction. (And, for the most part, our main characters had a lot of fun.)

It is not just within Hollywood.

Many people purchase elaborate security systems and build fancy doors and fences.

Many times, this invites those who accept the challenge.

Likewise, our prevalence of security and insurance has made many of us complacent at best.

At worst, we are selfish and entitled, thinking everything is okay for us to use, take, and meddle with.

In other words, we think everything we do is okay.

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Judges 17:6

And we think we are safe from consequences.

But we have no such security. We invite our own ruin.

The only security we have is to follow God’s Word.

Biblical principles can make our lives better, at the least by giving us peace of mind and heart.

And only by believing in and following Jesus are we secure from eternal condemnation.

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Peace and Strife

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife. -Proverbs 17:1 KJV

The last time I wrote on this verse, I talked about the families of close friends of ours who had lived with my wife and me.

Once again, I am going to talk about a friend who had lived with us.

This (grown and middle aged) friend had a girlfriend with grown kids of her own. Naturally, he was over at her house regularly. Both of them are devout Christians and attend church regularly.

However, her children pursue very worldly lifestyles, and when living at home were quite selfish, lazy, and confrontational when their wants and needs were not met to their expectations.

Our friend began telling us that he almost hated going over there. Rather, he liked coming into our home, because there was an air of peace that he did not feel when her kids were around.

We did not always have the greatest food, but he could sit in peace. We set high expectations with grace, but still with firmness.

Which home describes yours? Is your household one the promotes peace or one full of strife? Do you tolerate worldliness in your home or combat it with biblical teachings?


Fiery Strife

Proverbs 26:20-21.

 “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”(KJV).

The Most Important Things: Love and Unity

In John 13:35, Jesus made it abundantly clear what one of the most important aspects of discipleship is love: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” In other words, walking in love is one of the surest signs that we are true Christians. A few chapters later in this same book of the Bible, John records for us the high priestly prayer of Jesus that He prayed right before going to the Cross:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21). Wow! That’s one of the most sobering thoughts in the entire Bible. Here Jesus essentially says, “If Christians could become one in love and unity towards one another, the whole world would be saved.” That tells me that love and unity are the most important things we can learn as believers!

The Most Dangerous Things: Strife and Gossip

If the two most important things for us to learn to do as followers of Jesus is to walk in love and unity, then guess what the enemy is going to try to get us to do? To keep us from walking in love and unity! We shouldn’t be surprised then when we find the enemy coming and sowing seeds of strife and gossip… even (nay, especially) in the church.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says, “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.” (NLT). In other words, people who gossip and stir up strife are firestarters. In the same way that a fire can destroy anything from a house to an entire forest, so too a little gossip and strife can destroy relationships and unity.

So how do we guard against stripe and gossip? Fire needs fuel to burn, and so too strife needs the fuel of gossip to keep raging. Therefore, if we want to stop strife, we need to stop gossip. If we want to see the church of Jesus Christ prevail in the world, then we must contend for love and unity. We must refuse to gossip or talk negatively about another believer, and we must also refuse to listen to gossip about another Christian. And remember this truth: If someone will gossip to you, then they will likely gossip about you as well.

T.H.I.N.K.

T.H.I.N.K. before you speak: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If not, then remember the wisdom from Thumper’s mother from the Bambi movie: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Church – let’s let love, acceptance and forgiveness become our banner! As we do this, we will show the world that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ. Amen…

think


Fighting Talk

Proverbs 20:3 

It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. (NLT)

FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!

I have seen a few fights in my time. Firstly at school when the shout of FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, would result in a circle of boys around the two boys who were slugging it out. The shout of fight and the obvious circle of jeering boys in the playground also attracted the attention of teachers. They would wade in and separate the antagonists, who would then be dragged away to face punishment.

Why Fight?

There were occasional fights while I was serving at sea, even in the officers’ quarters. Alcohol often played a part, especially when combined with the stress of many months away from family and friends, working seven days a week. Disputes usually began with quarrels, often over the most trivial things. Even a game of Monopoly caused a fight after a one-month voyage across the Pacific followed by several weeks slowly discharging grain in the then Soviet Far East.

Why Quarrel?

While many quarrels at sea did not lead to fist fights, there was an easy way to predict those that might. Prior to moving from a quarrel to a full-blown fight, most seafarers remove their wristwatches. Why? Because when I was at sea there was an obsession with expensive Seiko watches, and jack tar didn’t want to get his watch broken in a punch-up. So why even get that far? Why be a fool and insist on quarrelling and come to the brink of physical violence? Why indeed? The message of this proverb is not only to avoid strife and fights, but to avoid the quarrels that lead to fights. Kenny Rogers sang about it back in the late 70s when I was still at sea:

“Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
It won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope you’re old enough to understand:
Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man.”

(Lyrics taken from ‘Coward of the County’ released by Kenny Rogers in 1979)


A Crumby Life

Proverbs 17:1

“Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.”

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” (NIV)

Struggling Through

I have some friends. These friends are great people, and soon after they got married they moved in with my wife and me.

We had to live together, you see, because I had lost my job, my wife had just graduated and was looking for work, and they had no jobs of their own. The little bit of income the four of us brought in was barely enough to pay rent, the bills, and get food.

And you know: the four of us have so many great memories together.

There were times when we were sharing three-day-old spaghetti, because that was all we had. There were times we borrowed toilet paper from their parents. There were times we had to ask family for money or food just to get by.

But we would play games together, laugh about the silliest things, and share all of our hurts and joys together.

Too much on the plate

Of those friends, his family is great. My wife and I call his parents “our other parents”. Her family makes Jacob’s (from Genesis) look like a finely functioning family. (If you do not know what I mean, go read Jacob’s story in Genesis 25-37!)

Her family squabbles about every little thing (really, it is her sisters who do all of the squabbling), while dad lets them figure it out on their own and mom cleans up the messes. My poor friend (and her mom, really) are the closest to sane in the whole family.

The problem is not that the family does not need to worry about money, because they are doing rather well.

The problem is that everyone is either looking out only for themselves (the sisters) or do not know how to deal with issues well if at all (mom and dad). They just keep heaping everything on until there is an explosion, and everyone is hurt.

My friends prefer spending the afternoon with us walking our dog and cleaning up his messes than a short meal with her family.

The Crumby Life

It is possible to “have it all” and live in peace and quiet. The real issue is that people try to make this life all about themselves, and they take and take and take without really giving back.

We must learn to be content, to seek God and what He has for us, and to share with others more than we demand.

Only then will we find peace.

God of peace, grant us the wisdom to find contentment with what You have already blessed us. If we are eager for more, may it be of more of You and sharing with others. Make us the peacemakers and givers of this world!


It’s a Trap!

Proverbs 16:28.

“A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”

The danger of strife:

In an earlier passage in Proverbs, Solomon describes seven things that the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). It’s interesting to note that three of those seven have to deal with sins of the mouth – a lying tongue, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord. As we are working on building healthy relationships, God warns us about one of the deadliest traps to avoid: strife.

Solomon tells us that strife comes from a froward, or a perverse, person. A godly man on the other hand will not stir up strife. Strife is so deadly that it can even separate the best of friends. It is very dangerous to cause strife, by gossiping about and slandering another person. Proverbs 6:15 warns us about the consequences about being a person who sows discord: “But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken beyond all hope of healing.” We must be ever-vigilant to guard against strife. Proverbs also warns us: “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” (Prov. 17:14). “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” (Prov. 26:20). Want to stop the deadly fire of strife? Stop gossiping!

The importance of unity:

In one of my favourite Psalms, David shows us why strife is so dangerous by talking about its opposite: unity: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious anointing oil… For there the Lord commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.” (Psalm 133). Here, David teaches us that unity is good, and that when we walk in unity with one another, God’s presence is there (symbolized by the anointing oil), His blessing is there, and eternal life – salvation – is found there. Is unity important? Absolutely.

As a pastor, when I work with a team of leaders, one of the most important principles I try to instill in them is an understanding of the importance of unity. If a leadership team (or a church, or a family – the principle works anywhere) walks in unity, they will experience God’s blessing. But once we allow strife to come in, it can destroy any team, church or family. It is one of Satan’s greatest weapons – it’s a trap! If God blesses unity, then the enemy will do whatever he can to stir up strife.

How to guard the unity:

How do we walk in unity? First of all, realize that offenses are going to happen. People are going to do things to hurt you, but you don’t have to pick up that hurt or offense. Choose to forgive. And if you have a problem with someone, go and talk to them about it, instead of talking to someone else about it. Guard the unity, keep out the strife, and you will walk in God’s blessing!


The Hot Head

Proverbs 15:18

“A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”

A Hot-Tempered Person

I love how our verse is stated in the ESV – “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”

We all know someone who is a hot-head. Someone who is easily provoked or short-fused. They become angry at the drop of a hat. The old saying, “Some people get angry at the drop of a hat and some throw the hat down themselves” is so true of our verse.

Solomon is telling us that those wrathful, hot-headed people are only going to cause more problems and strife.

The Calming Solution

Our verse today is not the first verse we have seen in Proverbs 15 that talks about how to deal with wrathful people. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”.

Solomon is basically telling us that the best way to “keep the peace” is to be calm or slow to anger.

It’s Our Choice

I can sit here and write this post about being calm the next time I am faced with someone who is trying to stir things up or that is angry with me, but when it actually happens, I have two choices: 1. I can become angry at the person and “stir the pot” even more,  or 2. I can stay calm and carefully choose my words. It is up to me!

How will you deal with a hot-tempered person? If you are normally a hot-headed person, how will you respond the next time you have a tendency to “throw down the hat”?