What does the Bible say about strife, and where should it be addressed first?
Strife is all around us. In fact, it is causing great division and disturbance in our world today. Everyone seems to have a different way of dealing with it. They may engage with it, or they may withdraw from it. However, God has clearly defined in His Word how He wants His people to address it. As believers, the question that we need to ask is, “What does the Bible say about strife?” In this article, Scott Iwahashi, an elder at Hope of the Generations Church, identifies the root of the problem and explains what each of us can do as individuals to be part of the solution and not the pollution.
What is at the core of the problem?
The legacy of strife and conflict has haunted humans for generations dating back to Cain and Abel. Spirits of violence and death have erupted and left devastation in their wake. In our societies today, especially in the realm of politics, people debate ways to make the world a safe place, free from conflict and its consequences. In an attempt to address the collective issues, we often neglect to address a key component – the individual.
At its core, every society is comprised of individuals. The level of strife or peace found in the life of an individual will inevitably leak out into the world around them. It would be insanity to surmise that a person not at peace with God or themselves would be able to somehow engineer peace toward their neighbor.
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:37-39 KJV
Where does strife start?
If we wish to address the strife found in society, we need not look far. Many of the fundamental issues that plague our communities, states, and countries can be readily observed at work in our homes. The health of the family unit or lack thereof will be reflected in all our human interactions. Sin and iniquity found in the home are carried with family members into the world around them.
Have you ever been around children with anger and rage who fight with others? It is not uncommon to find those same children come from troubled family situations. Many of those who are neglected or abused at home manifest behaviors reflecting their extreme distress at school or the marketplace.
How strife manifests
In more subtle ways, we may also manifest the dysfunctions of our iniquities. Strife may manifest itself through outright physical violence, or it may creep up in many smaller ways. With the advent of social media, it is easier than ever to lash out with a keyboard or a smartphone. It can be used to exact revenge through photos or libelous statements; even picking fights with people we don’t know personally.
What does the Bible say about strife?
At other times, we may get into face to face arguments with those around us at work or at home. Regardless of where it takes place, if we want a more peaceable planet, we must address some of the same issues that plagued the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. They wanted God to bless them, but their heart was not right.
3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Isaiah 58:3-4 KJV
How does God address strife?
The Israelites used religious practices to gain the upper hand over others, but God would not answer them according to their wrong motivations. Instead, he had a much more challenging solution:
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6 KJV
We must repent if we have been motivated by strife and the desire to harm or dominate others in our professional or personal life. However, we must also be willing to reach out to those same people once we repent to Father God. It is tempting to fall into the trap of turning inward in preparation to one day minister and care for others. We must be willing to take a risk and be willing to take a step of faith in our lack of “perfection” and reach out to others.
A challenge from the scripture for your life
This is not a social or political position. The challenge of scripture is to go out and love and care for others. Many of us have grown up in performance-based, selfish ways of life. Perhaps we do not know how to love and care for others. Today is an excellent opportunity to learn.
The application may be as simple as being kind to others when we go to the grocery store. In other situations, it may be found in conversation and allowing God to use you to pray for someone who has a need.
There is a practical side to this journey that fear of man and fear of failure prevents believers from pursuing. We must be willing to trust Father God to work with us when we interact with those around us without fear of being rejected or embarrassed.
We must embrace the fact that we will make mistakes. The only way we learn is by taking a risk and reaching out when we feel inept. We wouldn’t need faith in God if we could do this on our own.
Don’t avoid your family
Perhaps the most challenging part of this scripture is found in the next statement:
Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Isaiah 58:7 KJV
The last part of that statement says, “hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” Do you know who that is? It is our families. Remember the beginning of this writing? The only way we can learn to live in peace is to be willing to address our familial issues. Now, I know that there are situations of extreme abuse and I am not suggesting that people subject themselves to it. However, for many of us, there are issues that crop up and conflict arises from being around our familiars that we must address.
Our biggest challenge with strife is in our own homes
The challenge for our own lives and the battle over iniquity involves our families. If there is any group of humans on the planet that reflects our problems the most, it would be those closest to us. Pressing into interaction with our families will reveal certain depths of generational sin that few other relationships will ever disclose. Their struggles are usually similar to our own.
In fact, it is worth reflecting that answers given by God through Isaiah 58 are connected. The Israelites were crying out for a solution to their problems. They wanted all their strife and conflict to end, but God revealed that the source of their problem was two-fold:
- they were unwilling to care for and love others and
- their problems originated in a breakdown of relationships found in their own families.
A good gauge of our spirituality is our ability to remain at peace around our families. The degree to which we can be around them without being drawn into their conflicts and problems reflects our spiritual growth. If we find there are still issues, don’t go into despair and condemnation. There is more work to be done, and Father God is capable of helping us learn how to be around our family in a healthy way. With discernment, we will learn to separate our family and ourselves from evil spirits. This provides the opportunity to grow in freedom and embrace a more peaceable life.
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward. Isaiah 58:8 KJV
Elder at Hope of the Generations Church
We can be part of the solution
Be in Health’s mission is to establish generations of overcomers. Strife is just another area that God wants to speak into. As we continue to seek the answer to the question, “What does the Bible say about strife?” God will bring personal revelation that will help us to establish our ways in His righteousness.
We can ask God for His wisdom and discernment. When we do this, we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to truth and righteousness. We are not to lean on our own understanding or allow a spirit of accusation to point the finger in a harmful way. God wants to meet us in this area so that He can bring peace first into our homes and then into the world around us.
Let’s join God in the work of restoration so that He can use us to be the light in an ever-darkening world!
Or as Dr. Henry Wright use to say, “Let’s be part of the solution, not the pollution!”
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