“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
- James 3:16 KJV
Years ago, when my older son was in high school, I had to drive him to the public library to return some books he had borrowed for one of his class projects. I didn't like driving this route because it meant that we had to travel to the downtown area of a nearby city. I never felt comfortable having to deal with all the one-way streets. But I had prayed and stood on Psalm 91, which promises believers angelic protection, and I pushed my fears aside and depended on the Lord to watch over us. A few blocks before the library, we got lost. Suddenly, I found myself yelling at my son and blaming him for not knowing which way we should go. A moment later, my car collided with another, and what started out as a minor argument ended up in disaster. No one was hurt, thank God, but both cars were damaged considerably.
I must confess that the thing that bothered me most was that I had prayed for the Lord's protection right before the accident. I began to earnestly seek God about it, and He revealed to me that He allowed the accident to serve as a lesson about how destructive strife can be. When I got into strife with my son, I opened the door for Satan to come in and "steal, kill and destroy." (John 10:10) This shouldn't surprise us because the Bible indicates that we may forfeit angelic protection when we walk in disobedience. (Psalm 91:11 AMP; Exodus 23:20-21) James wrote: "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." (James 3:16 KJV) The dictionary defines strife as "conflict, disagreement, disharmony, discord, rivalry, contention, dispute, animosity, friction, hard feelings, or bad feelings." Looking at this long list of destructive behaviors, it's easy to understand why the Bible condemns strife.
Jesus said that the prayer of agreement has awesome power. (Matthew 18:19) So we shouldn't be surprised when Satan works overtime to create division and dissension among believers. The devil knows that if he can disrupt the harmony of a family, church, or group, he can drastically reduce their prayer power. What's at the root of strife? Animosity is one cause. Proverbs 10:12 (NASB) says, "Hatred stirs up strife." If we examine why we have a tendency to get into strife with a certain individual, we will often discover that we are harboring resentment or bitterness toward them. But if we make a quality decision to forgive and love that person, peace and healing will spring forth. Another cause of strife is pride. Proverbs 13:10 (NKJV) says, "By pride comes nothing but strife." The fruit of pride is always rotten, and when we choose to take a prideful attitude instead of one of humility, we are inviting trouble. One of the most destructive aspects about pride is that it can be so subtle that we don't even recognize it. When we find ourselves in conflict with someone, we should promptly seek God about it and ask Him: "Lord, if I'm harboring any resentment or pride in my heart, reveal it to me, and help me to deal with it Your way." Praying a prayer like this with sincerity and remorse will touch the heart of God and move Him to begin making the changes in us and our circumstances that need to be made.
In First Corinthians 3:3 (NASB), the apostle Paul writes: "For you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly?" Paul is saying here that believers who have a tendency to cause strife are worldly and spiritually immature. These people need to focus on cultivating a more intimate, meaningful relationship with God, so they will demonstrate more Christlike behavior. The Lord calls us to "be imitators of God," and to "live a life of love." (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV) It's important for us to understand that strife needs to be taken seriously. If you are encountering strife in your family, church, or ministry, you need to confront it, and deal with it swiftly and surely. Work hard at pursuing and maintaining peace, and know that when you do, you are engaging in powerful spiritual warfare that will bring a harvest of victory!
Prayer: Lord, whenever I get into strife, convict me by Your Spirit, and make me quick to repent. Remind me that Your Word says, "A troublemaker plants seeds of strife." (Proverbs 16:28 NLT) Give me a desire to seek You daily through prayer, praise, and Bible study so that I'll become more like Jesus every day. Thank You for teaching me to be a peacemaker, instead of a troublemaker!
- J. M. Farro