First, I would like to define the word strife. Strife is defined as “angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues; conflict”. Strife has a way of affecting all of us; whether we are the ones causing the strife or we are the ones caught in the middle of the strife created around us.
What causes strife? Why does it happen?
These are both good questions and the solution to the problem lies in the answer to these questions. Imagine a beautiful garden… this garden represents your life; your heart, your soul, and your mind. In the middle of this beautiful garden, Satan plants a seed. It’s a small seed that begins by slowly pushing up through the soil. When he plants this seed, he fertilizes it using grains of pride, hate, and jealousy. It’s slow to take off, barely growing at first. But then, as time passes, the little plant begins to grow faster and faster. It becomes an invasive plant, spreading throughout the beautiful garden and overtaking the beautiful plants growing there. This plant is strife and it continues to grow as it feeds on the pride, hate, and jealousy Satan planted it with. No matter how many times the plant of strife is mowed down, it is nourished by the pride, hate, and jealousy found in the ground and once again takes off and grows wildly in the garden. You see, it was only mowed down; the root and fertilizer remained there to shoot up once again. The beautiful plants that are being overtaken by the strife represent the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of God which may be destroyed; this spiritual fruit includes our love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22-23). Unfortunately, this is often how it is in life; strife comes on strong, is mowed down but not completely removed, there is a short time when everything seems fine, but the roots are still there and shoot up once more. It is a dangerous cycle and, each time the plant comes back, it’s a little older, a little stronger, and more well rooted.
So, what does the Bible say about strife?
Proverbs 27:17-27 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears… Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: So where thee is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; So is a contentious man to kindle strife… Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation. Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: And he that rolleth a stone, It will return unto him.
Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, Than an house full of sacrifices with strife.
This verse tells us that a house full of sacrifices will not make up for strife; we would be better to not have sacrificed at all and got rid of the strife. Think about some sacrifices made to Christ… fasting, for one. We could fast for a week straight but it wouldn’t make up for strife in our hearts: the fasting would be in vain.
Proverbs 20:3 It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: Therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
This verse explains that the beginning of strife is like letting out water. Imagine taking a glass full of water. The water in your glass is strife. Now turn the cup upside down over the floor and dump the water. You now have made a mess; strife is covering the entire floor, running in different directions. Can you put the water (strife) back in the glass? Can you make it go back to the way it was? No. You can mop up the water and wring your mop out in the glass, but the floor will still be wet and will take time to dry. This is how it is in life. You let the strife fill you up inside then let if flow over to those around you, covering them in your strife. One common way this is done is through gossip. Often, our strife is aimed toward either a person or group of people and, when it builds so much in us, we will go to others and tell them how ‘terrible’, ‘aweful’, or ‘un Christ-like’ that person is and, by doing so, may plant those invasive seeds of Satan in the heart of the person we are talking to. Once that seed has been planted (or the water has been dumped) it’s not so easy to take it back. You can work to mop up a portion of it, but some remains.
Proverbs 17:19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife: And he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
2 Timothy 2:22-26 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the lord out of a pure heart. 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.
“The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men…”
God’s Warning to Us All
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 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 God.
In this verse, God puts strife right there with murder and idolatry. You may think that strife doesn’t seem so bad, but it can be just as dangerous and deadly as murder, only the wounds it leaves are often internal wounds that can’t be readily seen. Furthermore, the verse goes on to say that those that do these things, including strife, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. God is very serious when it comes to strife; it can alter where you spend eternity.
So Where Does Strife Come From?
James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: But love covereth all sins.
Proverbs 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife…
Proverbs 22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; Yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
This verse goes as far a to tell us to cast out the scorner causing contention, strife, and reproach! This may seem drastic, but think back to the earlier verse that talked about the water that goes out. Just like the old saying ‘A bad apple can spoil the whole bunch’, strife can be passed from one person to others and corrupt the entire church.
Strife is a dangerous tool used by Satan to damage God’s church. Even if it is continually mowed down, it will continue to grow back until the root is also removed, the ground is tilled up, and God’s fruit (the fruit of the spirit) is once again planted and nourished. Removing the root is not something, though, that we can do in ourselves; we must pray to God that He will remove that root in us and forgive us to allowing it to grow. Only then will we truly be free from strife.