Dealing with the Spirit of Strife
WINNING WITH THE WORD
by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio
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by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio
Are you upset with someone today? Have you just had a big fight with your spouse, your child, or your mother? Is there a person at work with whom you just can’t get along? If so, then you can be sure that the spirit of strife has crept into your life.
Today I’m going to show you how you can stop being upset and start being happy. I’m going to show you how to deal with the spirit of strife and create positive, win-win relationships with all of the people in your life.
Strife is one of the key causes of relationship problems. In fact, strife is responsible for the breakup of marriages, families, friendships, and churches.
What is strife?
Webster defines strife as bitter, sometimes violent, conflict or dissension; an exertion or contention for superiority. I find it especially significant that Webster describes strife as “contention for superiority.” What he is saying is that contention, which is another word for strife, arises out of a desire for superiority. Superiority here means thinking of yourself and your needs as more important than the other person and his needs.
Another word for superiority is pride. Interestingly, the Bible, God’s manual for man, also relates strife to pride. Proverbs 13: 10 says, “By pride comes nothing but strife.” This verse tells us that in every instance of strife–in other words, in every fight you have with your spouse, in every argument you have with your children, in every verbal outburst you have with your co-worker–there is always pride involved. If both of you are shouting, then more than likely, there is pride on both sides.
Well, you may be wondering, what’s so bad about that? A little clearing of the air once in a while is good for you. If, by “clearing the air” you mean that two people in a relationship need to make sure they are communicating clearly, I agree with you. But strife is not the way to do it. In fact, strife never clears the air. Strife pollutes it even more.
You see, strife worms its way into a relationship, destroying the very foundations of that relationship. Strife’s goal is not to promote better communication. Strife’s immediate goal is to destroy communication, and its ultimate goal is to destroy the relationship.
Let’s look at seven causes of strife as described in the Bible:
Cause #1: Anger. Anger is a chief cause of strife. The Bible has a lot to say about anger. There is a kind of anger that is not sin. This is righteous anger, anger that is directed at evil. For example, it is right to be angry at the evil of abortion. But the anger we’re talking about here is anger that wants to hurt. That wants to get revenge. That wants its own way. This kind of anger leads to strife, and strife, as we will see later, leads to every evil thing.
Proverbs 15: 18 says, “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.” Again, in Proverbs 29: 22, we read, “An angry man stirs up strife.” Are you angry today? Is there a fire of rage boiling inside of you because of something someone did to you? If so, you need to deal with that anger because if you don’t, it will turn against you and destroy you.
Anger implies an assumption of personal rights, such as the right to have your own way or the right to succeed at the expense of others. You will notice that when we get angry, it’s usually because we think that someone has violated our rights. One of the keys to dealing with anger is to recognize that, in reality, if we’ve really given our lives to God, we have no rights to our own way. We have only privileges to the benefits of God’s way. And one of the benefits of a life yielded to God is peace.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather give up my right to having my own way in order to have God’s benefits of peace and joy than to hold on to my right to having my own way and live in strife and turmoil. You see, when we give up our right to our own way, what we’re really doing is giving up control of our own lives and giving that control to God. When we give up our right to our own way, we’re choosing to trust God to protect us. And who can better protect us than God? When we take matters into our own hands through anger, we create worse problems for ourselves.
If someone has hurt you badly, give the situation to God. Let Him work it out for your good. Forgive the person who wronged you and bless that person. To bless means to ask God’s mercy upon that person, to say good things about that person, and to refrain from saying bad things about him. If someone has wronged you, don’t seek revenge. In Romans 12: 19, God said, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,’ says the Lord.” If you place the situation in God’s hands and wait for him to work it out, you will save yourself a lot of turmoil and strife. Not only that. You will find that God’s solution to your problem is far better than yours could ever be.
One last thing about anger. The Bible warns us not to let the sun go down on our anger. If you’re angry, repent, and don’t ever go to bed angry. If you go to bed angry, it will be more difficult to repent the next day, and each day, it will become more and more difficult. Before you know it, your heart will become hard. And if you’re not careful, you may may end up dying in sin and going to hell.
Cause #2: Hatred. Hatred is Another cause of strife. Proverbs 10: 12, says hatred stirs up strife. Do you have hatred in your heart for another person? If you do your hatred will lead to strife when you come into contact with that person. Hatred is a very dangerous thing. In fact, hatred is so serious that God equates it to murder.
In 1 John 3: 15, God says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” You may never have put hatred in the same category with murder, but God does. If you have hatred in your heart toward anyone, in God’s eyes you’re just as guilty as if you had murdered the person you hate. And unless you repent of your hatred, God will have to judge you guilty of murder when you stand before Him. So get rid of hatred now.
Cause #3: Perversity. A third cause of strife is perversity. Proverbs 16: 28 tells us that a perverse man sows strife. What is a perverse man? According to Webster, “perverse” means turned away from what is right or good. So, a perverse person is someone who has turned away from what is right or good.
Well, what is right and what is good? Right and good are whatever God says they are, for He alone is Absolute Truth. And we can read God’s definition of right and good in His instruction manual for man, the Holy Bible.
If you find yourself continually getting into strife examine your belief system. Do you agree that right and good are what God says they are? Or have you bought into the world’s way of thinking that says that each person can determine for himself what is right and good?
If you recognize yourself in the group that has chosen to turn from God’s definition of right and good, take an honest look at your life? Where has turning away from God gotten you? Are you really happy and at peace deep down inside? Or are you just faking it?
Cause #4: Love of transgression. Proverbs 17: 19, says that he who loves transgression loves strife. What is transgression? Transgression is violating the limits of divine law. In simple language, it means to sin.
Some people just love to sin. In fact, they’ve done it so often they sin automatically. Well, God says that the person who loves sin will create strife in his relationships. Why? Because sin always opens the door to death. Strife is a form of death and if not stopped, it will cause a relationship to die.
Cause #5: Gossiping. Gossiping is another cause of strife. Proverbs 26: 20 says, “And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” In other words, where there is no one who gossips, strife stops. How many relationships have been damaged because of gossiping? Only God knows. Gossiping is akin to murder in that it kills. Gossiping can kill the reputation of another person and damage that person’s relationships with others for life. Not only that, gossip creates discord among friends and among family members. It causes them to take sides, thus destroying unity in relationships.
I once read a story about a young girl who gossiped about another girl. The gossiper became convicted of her sin and went to her pastor. The pastor gave her a little exercise to do. “Take a feather pillow,” he said. “Rip it open and throw the feathers to the wind. After you’ve finished, come back and report to me.”
The young girl did as she was instructed, and then reported back to her pastor. Now her pastor said, “I want you to do one more thing. I want you to go back and collect all the feathers.”
The young girl stared at him in disbelief.
The pastor looked deeply into her eyes. “Just as it is impossible to re-gather all the feathers,” he said gently, “so is it impossible to re-gather all the gossip you uttered.”
With tear-filled eyes, the young girl suddenly realized the seriousness of what she had done and sincerely repented of her gossiping.
Cause #6: Pride. The sixth cause of strife is pride. Proverbs 28: 25, says, “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife.” A person with a proud heart looks down on others and treats them as inferior. In so doing, he opens the door to strife because he has destroyed the foundation of mutual respect on which a solid relationship is built.
Harmony in a relationship results only when we treat others as we would like to be treated. Doing so requires humility and awareness that no one is better than we are and that we are no better than anyone else. All of us are equal in value. Such an attitude of humility will eliminate strife in our relationships.
Cause #7: Foolish disputes and arguments over words. Second Timothy 2: 23, says, “Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.” Do you know people who like to argue just for the sake of arguing? They seem to get their kicks out of creating quarrels over trivial things, things that don’t matter in the long run. Soon, what started out as something insignificant ends up in a major war. Avoid such people, for their silly disputes will lead you into strife.
Let’s look at James 3: 16, in relation to strife: “For where there is envy and strife, there is every evil thing.” Envy in this passage means “fierce indignation.” What a sobering statement! Where fierce indignation and strife are found, so is every evil thing.
Now think about some evil things and relate them to that verse. For example, where you find fierce indignation and strife, you will often find rejection, hurt, financial bondage, sickness, confusion, fear–our list could go on and on. Why? Because continued indignation and strife result in one or more of these evil things.
For example, if you are continually angry and upset, it will eventually affect your health. You may develop an ulcer or high blood pressure. If you are continually angry and upset, you may start doing poorly on your job. You may find yourself feeling confused, unable to think clearly, because all you can think about is that person or that situation that is upsetting you so much.
Are there evil things going on in your life? If so, check the strife gauge of your heart. Is it full or empty? Very likely, it’s not empty. In fact, it may read “full.” If so, what can you do to get rid of the strife in your life? There is only one way and that’s through Jesus Christ. Only He can give you the grace and power to overcome strife.
If you have not yet invited Jesus Christ to come into your life, I encourage you to do so now. Just pray this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus, I come to You just as I am. I admit that I am a sinner in need of your mercy and grace. I believe that You are the Son of God, that You died for me, and that You rose again on the third day. I invite You now to come into my life. I receive You as my personal Savior, and as the Lord of my life. Make of me all that You created me to be. Amen.
If you sincerely prayed this prayer, you are now a born again follower of Jesus Christ. I invite you to write to me at Dr. MaryAnn– that’s M-A-R-Y-A-N-N– at maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a little booklet that will help get you started in your Christian walk. I also invite you to visit my website at maryanndiorio.com.
Thank you for listening. This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, your virtual life coach, reminding you that God loves you just as you are and just where you are and that He will help you to keep on winning with the Word.
Now, it’s YOUR turn: What about you? Do you struggle with worry? What has helped you to overcome worry? Please share your comments in the Comments Box below. Thank you!
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PODCAST: “DEALING WITH THE SPIRIT OF STRIFE”
by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio
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