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As many more people are prayerfully searching the scriptures with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, souls are being added to the body of Christ daily. With this growth, we have to be careful that the serpent Satan doesn’t wiggle his way into these circles to disrupt peace. He has done this successfully for thousands of years, and today is no different. If anything, his work is amplified as his time is very short. As the body of Christ, every believer is responsible individually for connecting to the Father through the Holy Spirit that has been reborn in them. The Word gives us warnings about strife that can find its way into our circles, and we shouldn’t be foolish concerning these things. The threat is very real, and the result of strife can be catastrophic for those involved. We seek to be at peace with all men, speaking the truth but avoiding arguments and vain contentions that only lead to strife, anger and sin. This is no small task, but it is vital for us to know these truths. The definition of strife is- “heated, often violent dissension, bitter conflict, a struggle, fight or quarrel, contention or competition between rivals.” One of the first biblical mentions of strife comes from the time of Abraham:

“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. 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.” ~ Genesis 13:7-8

You can already see that this man Abraham, blessed by God, was interested in peace. He was so interested in peace that he gave Lot the better piece of land, and he took the less appealing side. Why would he do this? We know that Abraham pleased the Creator so much, that he became the first of mankind to receive the promises that he received. This tells us much about the nature of the Creator- a lover of peace, humility, and meekness. The book of Proverbs has much to say about strife:

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”The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.” ~ Proverbs 17:14

“He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction. ~ Proverbs 17:19

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” ~ Proverbs 10:12

“A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.” ~ Proverbs 15:18

“It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.” ~ Proverbs 20:3

“As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. ~ Proverbs 26:21

“He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat.” ~ Proverbs 28:25

“An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.” ~ Proverbs 29:22

You can see here many truths concerning strife. Strife is linked to transgression also known as sin, and it appears to involve the pride in man. We can see that motivations for strife are hatred, wrath, anger, pride, fury, and contention. The most interesting of these verses in my opinion is Proverbs 10:12- “Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all sins.” We see over and over again in the Old Testament God’s anger, because his people lacked love for one another. They constantly battled for position and picked at each other. We must learn from the mistakes of the ancient Israelites, and turn to each other with love constantly. The book of Isaiah also touches on this topic:

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“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. 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. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? 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? 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? 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 58:3-8

The Lord (The Word) scolds this people that is “fasting” for the purpose of strife and debate. Then this text reveals the “fast” that God has chosen- give bread to the hungry, bring the poor into your house, clothe the naked, etc. Again we must learn from the mistakes of the ancient Israelites. Habakkuk links strife to poor or wrong judgment:

“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. ~ Habakkuk 1:2-4

We can learn much from Paul in 1 and 2 Timothy concerning this topic and how to deal with our fellow believers in Christ.

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Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 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; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:1-6

“Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:20-21

“Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:14-18

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:23-26

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You can see the volumes that Paul speaks to Timothy on this, and we can probably conclude that this was an issue at the time. Even in a time where Apostles walked the earth, strife came in among the body of Christ, the believers. As Paul says- we must STUDY the Word for ourselves to show ourselves approved, workmen not needing to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of the truth. We must allow the Holy Spirit to take over our lives, before we can see clearly to help a brother to come to knowledge of the truth. Notice too in this verse, that it is GOD that gives them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth! In other words it is GOD that opens their eyes, not us and our words. We must pray for eyes to be opened, but we can in no way force them open. It is God that does this. Paul also mentions strife to the Corinthians, and the Philippians. Remember we are supposed to be walking in the SPIRIT, not the Carnal FLESH. He relates strife to walking in the flesh:

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:3

“For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:20

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” ~ Philippians 2:3

Over and over again, we are warned of strife. When we bring truth to someone in love, our approach is very different than it would be if there was no love. Love is the key, it is patient and it is kind. It has no pride. When we speak out of love, the hearer can sense this. When we speak from a place of contention or strife, anyone can sense this too. Titus tells us to “Avoid”:

“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” ~ Titus 3:9-11

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The term “heretick” is explained when looking at the root greek word: Cognate: 141 hairetikós (an adjective, derived from 138 /hairéomai, “to choose, have a distinctive opinion”) – a factious person, specializing in half-truths and misimpressions “to win others over” to their personal opinion(misguided zeal) – while creating harmful divisions (used only in Tit 3:10). See 139 (hairesis). We are called to unite others in love, not divide others with contention. This means sometimes when we bring truth and it is not received, we walk away in peace and pray for the hearer. We may look like the fool, but it is better for a seed to planted in love than for strife to be planted in contention. We can only pray that God opens an ear or a heart while we plant His seeds. James probably gives us one of the best accounts of How we should approach anyone, believer or not:

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” ~ James 3:13-18