Strife simply means conflict, but a very strong one. It is more than disagreements and arguments. It embodies bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, and many other vices. We are in the last days Jesus predicted in Matthew 24 so, strife has now become the order of the day. Since the Christian nature and culture do not include strife, we must learn to guard our hearts against it. But the thing about strife is that it usually slips in without getting noticed. This blog post covers ways believers let strife sneaks in and grow in their midst, without even knowing it.
Unforgiveness often degenerates into hatred and hatred stirs up strife (Proverbs 10:12). Sometimes, people hurt us so deeply that forgiving them becomes a very hard thing to do. But at such times, we must remember that we no longer have the nature of man which is weak and led by emotions. As new creatures, we now have the divine nature of God, the same nature in Him which allowed Him to not just forgive us, but also die for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). God forgave us even when we were yet sinners. And if we do not replicate this nature by walking in it, we would only end up dishonouring Christ and permitting strife.
Proverbs 15:18 tells us that “a hot-tempered person stirs up conflict but the one who is slow to anger, calms strife”. If you are quick to get angry, you would become someone who is very quarrelsome –everything becomes a reason for you to fight. The truth of the matter is that in this life people would always upset you. They would get on your nerves and many times won’t even feel sorry about it. Nevertheless, you must continue to follow peace with all men (Romans 14:19; Romans 12:18). If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, then Satan is the originator of conflict. Don’t let anger lead you to permit strife.
Sowing seeds of discord.
A little gossip here, a little bad-mouthing there and you are already inviting strife by sowing discord amongst people. It is even worse when this happens within the body of Christ because we are to positively contribute to the building up of the body, till we all come into the unity of faith and the knowledge of Christ as one. And that can never happen through sowing seeds of discord. Ephesians 4:11-16; Proverbs 6:16-19
This, like all the others mentioned above, also breeds strife. In fact, the others are a result of carnality because strife is a fruit of carnality (1 Corinthians 3:3). No wonder the bible says carnality is enmity with God (Romans 8:7). Take time to build your spirit man. Pray ceaselessly, study the Word often, and of course, fast and pray in the spirit. These things build you up and weaken the power of the flesh. I promise you that when you are on a 3-day long fast, you wouldn’t have the energy for conflict (this isn’t a doctrine by the way).
Strife is clearly antagonistic to Christian conduct. It is built from things that God strongly opposes. More especially, it should not be found amongst believers and Mark 3:24 tells us why: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” The devil desires that strife thrives amongst believers so that he would weaken their unity, but we must be wiser than the devil -to be vigilant and sensitive to his plots and devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).
So, how do we overcome strife?
The first way to overcome strife is through love. The Scripture makes us understand that love covers a multitude of sins (Proverbs 10:12). Again, we are told in Romans 13:8 that the fulfillment of the law is love. If God has told us to make peace with our neighbours but it seems quite impossible to achieve, with love we can make it possible. Don’t forget that we were also in “conflict” with God over a fundamental issue –our sin. We had chosen enmity with Him. Yet He came to earth to die for our sins because He loves us (Romans 5:8).
Praying for those who hurt us also helps us overcome whatever resentment or grudge we may have towards them. There is even a blessing that comes from praying for those who hurt us. Job was in a terrible state. He was hurt financially, emotionally, physically and in all areas of his life and the people he called his friends weren’t helping matters at all (Job 6). They were saying things that were hurtful to him. But the Bible records that when Job prayed for his friends, God turned his captivity (Job 42:10). Although his friends were not a direct cause of his pain. The devil was, since he is the father of evil. His friends did contribute to his pain. However, his prayer brought him the healing he so desired.
Again, strife is of the flesh, and we do not live by the flesh but by the Spirit of God. Let us be intentional about replacing strife with love in our midst, by living and walking in the spirit. (Galatians 5:16-25; Proverbs 10:12)