Strife is everywhere in this day an age. On the television, on the radio, in the congregation, on forums, chat rooms, emails, newsgroups, and in the home. The following study is to examine what strife is, the causes of it and how to avoid it.
I would like to preface this study by saying that I am not perfect in this, but have had the strong desire to be perfect in this, for:
Proverbs 16:32- He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
First of all, let’s take a look at what ‘strife’ is. According to Webster’s Dictionary, Strife means
“1. Exertion or contention with another; competition. 2. Contest; struggle; quarrel.”
These definitions fit well with the Hebrew meanings of the word. But what does scripture say that strife is? We see one example of strife as far back as Abraham’s day.
Genesis 13:6- And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 7 – And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
So we see that there were 2 brothers, Abram and Lot dwelling together in a land that could not support them. There seemed to be some strife among the herdsmen as a result of this. I’m sure they strove over who would get the better land, water, etc. but what is great about this record is what Abraham did to resolve it:
Genesis 13:8- And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
I love Abraham’s reasoning here “For we are brethren.” Abraham took the initiative here. And desired above all things that there would be no strife among brethren, even if it meant him taking the lesser part:
Genesis 13:9- Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. 10 – And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before YAHWEH destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of YAHWEH, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 – Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12 – Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
So Abraham, in his righteousness allowed Lot to take the greater part and him the lesser. In this, I believe that Abraham was blessed. Yahushua said:
Matthew 5:9- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of YAHWEH.
I believe that it is important that we always try to make peace among our brothers and that we will be blessed for doing so. We should realize though, that with some men this is not possible. Let’s examine the type of people that stir up strife:
Proverbs 15:18- A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
Proverbs 29:22- An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.
Proverbs 30:33- Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.
For a person who is angry a lot, he is sure to have strife in his home and among the brothers. Often times, they might feel justified their anger by calling it “righteous anger” such as when Yahushua overturned the tables of the moneychangers. But I think that righteous anger is indeed a rare thing and it is often used as an excuse to be angry.
Proverbs 16:28- A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
Froward means ‘perverse’. Some go around and sow strife wherever they go. Wherever they are, strife is soon to follow. Scripture calls them ‘perverse’.
Proverbs 17:19- He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
Yes, some just love to strive. They like the competition, the fire, the ability to make another look bad. And make themselves look good.
Proverbs 26:21- As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
When we see a contentious man, we should mark them and avoid them for strife with them is often not far behind.
Proverbs 28:25- He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in YAHWEH shall be made fat.
I believe this is usually the cause of strife. The desire to contend and put another down to make themselves look good. But in Yahweh’s eyes, they are evil. Consider what it is like to live with strife:
Proverbs 17:1- Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.
What can we do to avoid strife?
Proverbs 17:14- The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
Ever tried to stop an inrush of water? It is very very difficult to stop it once it starts. Men have built dams hundreds of feet high to stop it. What can be done? Walk away, run if need be. For scripture says:
Proverbs 20:3- It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
So it is more honorable to cease from striving than to continue. Some other tips in the proverbs:
Proverbs 26:17- He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
If there is strife among others, I think it not wise to join in unless you know that you can bring peace to them. Yahweh promises to keep us from strife:
Psalms 31:19- Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! 20 – Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Now there are some among the brethren who preach the truth just so that they can always win an argument or lift themselves up. Paul noted these types of men in his day:
Philippians 1:15- Some indeed preach the Messiah even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 – The one preach the Messiah of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 – But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the glad tidings. 18 – What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, the Messiah is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
HalleluYah! At least it is preached, regardless of the motivation. However, it is written:
Philippians 2:3- Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Oh that all would only heed this scripture! There would be no strife at all among brethren! But we know that there always will be. There was in Paul’s day, and there still is. The best that we can do is not participate in their quest, but to humble ourselves and walk away!
Romans 13:13- Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 – But put ye on Yahushua the Messiah, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
If we as people of Yahweh desire the meat of the word, we will never get it unless we put away strife!
1 Corinthians 3:2- I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 – For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
When I see much strife in the heart of some, I don’t regard what they say as having much credence due to this scripture (and others that I will share later). If one desires to strive at every turn and hurl insults, then how can they be a true teacher of the word from Yahweh?
Those who bear His name must be very careful what choose to say to others. All the world watches to see the love for one another that Yahushua said would be evident among His disciples. We must always remember that all that we write and say is written down for judgement!
Matthew 12:36- But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Do we realize the importance of those words spoken by Yahushua? Do we realize that if our conduct is not blameless that we who bear His name do indeed take His name in vain? As the proverb says..
Proverbs 30:8- Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 – Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is YAHWEH? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my Elohim in vain.
Those who bear and proclaim His name must walk in righteousness. When we do not.. people will say “This is the people of Yahweh” and will associate His wonderful name with unrighteousness.
I pray that our searching for the truth can be without vain strife and animosity toward one another. Who owns all the truth? Certainly not I. Yes, the one we serve does lead us into all truth IF we are humble! When we personally berate another for his lack of understanding in our own eyes then surely we are acting as if WE are the wise ones and the OTHER is the fool. Is this humility? I think no! When Yahushua spoke to certain disciple, he said:
John 21:15- So when they had dined, Yahushua saith to Simon Kepha, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Rabbi; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 – He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Rabbi; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 – He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Kepha was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Rabbi, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Yahushua saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
What did Yahushua mean? We are the sheep of His pasture. His sheep hear His voice. But a stranger’s voice they will not hear. His people are sheep, hungry for His word…needing to be fed. Not intimidated into submission with harsh words and idle threats and STRIFE. Yahushua leads His sheep gently:
Isaiah 40:11- He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
If we are chosen to feed His sheep, how will we treat them? Will we..like Him..gather them with our arms gently lead them or will we smite them with our words?
James 3:7- For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 – But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
I encourage all the brothers and sisters to have discretion and understanding toward one another. Do not frighten off the sheep.
Proverbs 19:11- The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
We need to be longsuffering! The one we serve sure is!
Psalms 145:8- YAHWEH is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
Are we like Yahushua? Yahushua takes the beatings and spittings of the enemy for our sakes and then says “Father forgive them”. Do we receive one small ounce of disrespect from a brother and then lash out like we have been slain? Are we forgetting “The weightier matters of the law?”
Matthew 23:23- Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
As Yahushua said…judgement, mercy and faith are the weightier matters of the law. These we must do, without leaving the others undone. These are characteristics of Yahushua and we must walk like He walked.
Ephesians 4:1- I, therefore, the prisoner of Yahushua, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 – with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 – endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
When we lack lowliness, gentleness and longsuffering. When we fail to bear with one another in love..then do we truly love our brother? Are we loving our brother as Yahushua loved us? This was His commandment:
John 13:34- A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 – By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Yes, can you believe that? The world won’t know that we are His disciples because of how smart we are or how wise and versed we are in scripture. But by our love for one another. Will the innocent bystander find love among us?
I tell you that when I see those lacking in this..I question whether the source is a true disciple of Yahushua for it will be the LOVE for one another that will reveal His disciples. If we lack this..we are treading on very very dangerous ground!
1 John 3:10- In this the children of YAHWEH and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of YAHWEH, nor is he who does not love his brother.
1 John 4:20- If someone says, “I love YAHWEH,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love YAHWEH whom he has not seen?
And for those who might say that the other is your enemy and not your brother then I call on you to “Love your enemies” as Yahushua commanded also.
Matthew 5:44- But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 – That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 – For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 – And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 – Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
If we cannot love we brother, how can we love our enemy? And again if we cannot love our brother whom we have seen, how can we love Yahweh whom we have not seen? Let’s avoid the striving:
1 Timothy 3:9- Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
Titus 3:9- But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
Colossians 3:12- Put on therefore, as the elect of YAHWEH, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 – Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as the Messiah forgave you, so also do ye.
It is important that we do not confuse a rebuke with a desire to strive. I think we should consider one another’s rebuke even if we disagree totally or view it as an attack.
Psalms 141:5- Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
Proverbs 9:8- Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Proverbs 15:32- He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
Proverbs 15:33- The fear of YAHWEH is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
Proverbs 17:10- A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
Proverbs 19:25- Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
Proverbs 27:5- Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Sometimes rebuke isn’t correct:
Jeremiah 15:15- O YAHWEH, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.
But if it’s from our Master, it’s ALWAYS correct. I think it wise to always pray when we encounter a rebuke, and do not strive with them.
Revelations 3:19- “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
We must also not confuse strife with Yahweh’s desire for us to ‘contend’ for His will.
Proverbs 28:4- They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
Jude 1:3- Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
There is a HUGE difference here. First of all the words translated ‘contend’ here do not mean to argue or fight, but to stand for what is right with a high degree of zeal! Being zealous for righteousness is certainly a good thing. But this should be done in meekness and gentleness for the battle is not a battle of the flesh, but of the Spirit!!
Zechariah 4:6- Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of YAHWEH unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith YAHWEH of hosts. 7 – Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Favor, favor unto it.
If Yahweh can move a mountain with His Spirit, then He surely doesn’t need our yelling and screaming to accomplish His will and defeat the enemy! Strife is a work of the FLESH, not a fruit of the SPIRIT.
Gala 5:19- Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness 20 – Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh.
Did you see that? They “which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh” Strife was on the list!
Galatians 5:22- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:23 – gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
I pray that all of us would begin to see the importance of having the fruits of the Spirit in every place. At work, in forums, chat rooms and especially in our own homes. Surely if we sow to the Spirit of the Spirit we’ll reap LIFE (Forever!). Let’s keep in mind that it is Yahweh’s Spirit that convicts one of sin. It is Yahweh’s Spirit that should speak through us. Let’s keep this in mind as we walk in the Spirit, let’s treat our every word with care and speak as the oracles of Yahweh.
2 Tim 2:24-25- “And the servant of Yahweh must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if Yahweh peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth”