In connection with the sinful works of the flesh as set forth in Galations 5:19-21 we will consider the one called, strife. Strife is defined as vigorous or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism: a quarrel, struggle, or clash. Strife is also a vying with another for supremacy. It is a struggle that leads to competition and contention. Strife finds its roots in a self-seeking and selfish attitude. Strife is the results of two or more individuals with each insisting on having their own way.
Strife can grow out of any of the other works of the flesh and lead on into those, which are most destructive. Strife destroys friendships, peace, and security. It cripples relationships and hinders progress. If left unrestrained it can progress into actions, which destroys homes, all sorts of institutions, and personal and public property. You can probably add to this list.
In considering it for what it really is one can easily see that strife leads to no good and can only yield itself to unpleasant and mean things. Avoiding strife is the responsibility of all born again children of God. It is also the right thing to do in a decent moral society. Those who take the high road by allowing contentions and strife to die out are truly great souls.
The Scriptures have much to say concerning this subject. Let’s consider a few verses.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words [strife]stir up anger” (Prov. 15:10.
“A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife” (Prov. 15:18).
“Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife” (Prov. 26:20, 21).
The Apostle Paul gives a contrast between wholesome words and words of strife and contention in Second Timothy 6:3-5: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; (4) He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, (5) Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
The overall biblical advice is summed up in Paul’s words: “from such withdraw thyself.” He goes on to say in verse 6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Strife and contentment are opposites of each other. You cannot have both at the same time. Which one would you prefer?
Walter Lofton is a local pastor at the Church of God in Seth and can be reached by email at [email protected]