Hello everyone (anyone?). It’s been some time since my last post. I was blessed with a new job last April and the work keeps me busy. It also keeps me in prayer, crying out to God for help, wisdom, grace and peace. Which brings me to the topic of this morning’s post:
Strife and division.
Hopefully everyone knows the definition of these words, particularly in light of scripture. It’s imperative to know how to recognize when these 2 enemies are operating in our life, and to put a stop to them quickly. If not, the consequences are destructive and deadly:
“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” James 3:16
Strife is prevalent and amplified at this point in time, thanks to the multiple ways available to express our anger, discontent and abuse.
You turn on the TV and people are fighting. Fictional TV or reality, it doesn’t matter. Arguing, rebellion, arrogance and vindictiveness are highlighted and glorified.
You read an article online and want to post a comment, then BAM! The responses come fast and furious (emphasis on the furious), where civility and kindness are lost among the profanity-laden insults being hurled at anyone expressing a different view.
Facebook has become a place of division and anger. Friendships are lost and emotions run high because so many people feel compelled to throw in value-judgments and name-calling, instead of just making a statement or engaging in honest dialogue.
And politics…well, seriously. I don’t need to explain, you have eyes…and ears. I can’t listen to talk radio because I can’t stand to hear people argue all the time. It disturbs my calm. The Holy Spirit has spent a lot of time helping me get to a place of peace in my life and I don’t want to screw it up.
Which again brings me back to the reason for this post. We have to protect what we allow into our sight, what we listen to and what we focus on. I have enough on my plate just keeping the strife out of my own thoughts, than to jump into someone else’s trumped-up battle or make-believe war.
There was a point in my early Christian walk when I battled a LOT of confusion. I mean it literally sounded like bees swarming around my head at times. I cried out to God asking for help, and in His goodness and mercy, He highlighted the scripture in James posted above. I had to own up to the fact that I was in almost constant strife in my life. If I wasn’t verbally expressing it, the conversations going on in my head were enough to suck the life right out of me. I could get worked up inwardly over the slightest incident because I was experiencing a lot of hardship outwardly in my circumstances. Through the Holy Spirit’s loving conviction and instruction, I came to realize that some of my outward troubles were the direct consequence of the strife-filled life I had habituated to. Only through God-directed conviction, confession, repentance and help have I been able to overcome anger, blame and a critical spirit.
Not that I have arrived…
Like I said, it’s insidious. If the enemy can’t trip you up with old habits and trigger points, he will come at you in a new way. And usually it’s more subtle than before…
“Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
About 10-12 years ago, the Lord specifically directed me to stay in unity with my husband, and to avoid strife in our relationship. That may seem like a no-duh kind of direction, especially for a Christian marriage, but the Voice I heard in my spirit spoke those words simply & clearly, knowing the attacks that were to come. God had already healed and restored our marriage in 1992, but the devil loves nothing more than to take that which glorifies God and twist it into something ugly. Or break it apart (John 10:10). Or wear it down. Things can get so bad in your circumstances that the family unit you are supposed to have- the safe haven, the secure place of unconditional love and acceptance- turns into just another relationship that you have to “deal with”. It becomes a cold-war, where mistrust and miscommunication lead to an uneasy détente. Each side silently blames the other for the current state of affairs, not recognizing that the source of those thoughts is hiding in wait, ready to pounce when the opportunity presents itself.
It hasn’t been easy and we certainly haven’t walked it out perfectly. My husband and I made a righteous decision to seek God and keep our relationship submitted to Him. Through God’s continued help and mercy, we talk to each other and listen to one another, prayerfully seeking His counsel and strength everyday. And God is faithful to show us when strife and/or division is quietly sneaking in through a back door:
“But He (Jesus) knew their thoughts and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.” Luke 11:17
Those lessons learned about staying in peace and in unity are coming in very handy now. The applications go beyond my marriage and family. It extends to all areas of my life: work, friends, extended family, at church, in the grocery store, while I’m driving on the road…
Strife is swirling all around us, but we are to be salt and light in the earth. We are supposed to reflect Jesus, the One who slept in the back of the boat during a storm while everyone else was freaking out (Mark 4:37-40). We need to be the humble, gentle voices that speak truth into situations, motivated by love for our Father and love for our fellow man. Be bold, yes, most certainly be bold! But boldness does not mean in anger and with hate in your heart.
Make the quality decision to stay out of strife. His peace is worth the cost of whatever you have to get rid of to receive it.
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:14-15