Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Overcoming Strife and Contention

Overcoming Strife and Contention

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger,
lest they be discouraged (Col 3:21 KJV)

Welcome to today’s Truth for the Journey: “Overcoming Strife and Contention.” This is a subject that affects all of us and something that our adversary likes to entrap us with. Strife and Contention can enter our lives with extreme subtlety to the point that we don’t notice until it’s too late; we’ve fallen for it again! So let’s take a look at how we can reverse if not resist the effects of strife and contention altogether. Especially in our marriages and within our ministries for those of us who have them! We will take some simple scriptures to illustrate this and we will start with our opening scripture Col 3: 21 which uses the word “provoke.” Provoke in the Greek language is the word “erethizo” which means: to stimulate, especially to anger. This compound word is also connected with another Greek word, “eris” meaning: a quarrel…wrangling, contention, debate, strife and variance.

Wrangling, causing strife and contention or getting into “hard debating” with one another is never good, but especially not with our children – it is not God’s method of parenthood nor is it His best for them. His way is “nurture” not “control.” For instance we cannot “control” our children into obedience; rather we must “nurture” them into obedience! There is a big difference between the two but the same goes for “any” relationship. All relationships need nurturing and massaging but certainly not controlling! “Provocation” in the negative sense is always detrimental - especially when it comes to our children. Important enough to warrant mention in the New Testament – where we are warned not to “provoke” even our children. But let’s face it – in every relationship - opportunity certainly arises for strife!

Nonetheless the upbringing of our children is evidently of great significance to God. Not only are they His children also but they represent the next generation of revivalists and preachers; history makers and reformers! Not Christendom’s next big celebrities but just boys and girls next door – who have enough of His spirit to be a valid witness for Him, on their own geographical door step – which is something valuable in God’s sight (it takes less courage to be dreamy about the nations where nobody “knows” you!)

Other words to describe “contention” would be: debate, controversy, dispute, disagreement, conflict and argument - all of which would be the exact opposite to “harmony!” We must continually ask ourselves uncomfortable questions like this; “what is it that I am doing on a daily basis to help promote harmony amongst my family and friends?” We can’t afford to wait for everyone else to make it happen. Where is our own contribution happening? In fact we should be the “first” to contribute! Another question could be, “Am I always drawn to controversy? If the answer is yes then there is evidently something out of balance somewhere. Yet sadly many folks lean towards the negative which is why strife exists in “most” homes and it takes a concerted effort by every member to eradicate or prevent strife from even entering the home. We must have a high ceiling of tolerance but low ceiling for strife of any kind!

Families have to adjust themselves constantly in order to accommodate all the changes going on in each individual who is constantly developing and growing. As believers our homes should be a sanctuary but very often they are a battle ground! Even though we declare salvation, regeneration and the fruits of the Spirit this can be the furthest from the truth! The reason is this, wherever the FLESH is in “control,” there will always be “corruption” as seen in Gal 6:8 “...he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.” Or as the Amplified Bible says it: “... will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction.”

Perhaps another good word for “corruption” would be “corrosion,” as relationships never just disintegrate over night but they do “corrode” over time. Again we often fail to notice until it’s too late. Corrosion of the family happens where strife has been permitted so much room – it may as well pay housekeeping like a live in lodger! Sounds funny – yet allowing strife to stretch its muscles too often in our homes – just leaves everyone feeling beat up and bruised all the time! Another question to ask would be, “Is there any peace in my home?” If the answer is continually, “No” – then it’s time to do something about it. The remedy can be found in James 4:7 where it says, “ subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.”

Much can be said about children, especially teens; stirring up strife in the home but so can the parents! It might be the husband or the wife or both. For the wife/mother role in particular; a woman will discover that she is able to set the whole tone of the day for her household. She wields that kind of power! In fact a woman has the power to “set” or “off-set” the entire course of her family’s day – HOW? Simply by what comes out of her mouth “first-thing” every morning! (Good mood or bad - hormones or no hormones!) The same can be said of the husband/father role of course but a woman has particular power or influence in this area. Why? Because she has been specifically equipped by God to be a “nurturer,” “life-giver” (Eve), “nest-builder” and “homemaker...” But never was she designed to emasculate her male counterpart or usurp his God given role and position. Nor was she destined to provoke her family to despair! Either husband or wife can be guilty of this! But a woman is capable of bringing great vitality to her home or great oppression! (We will look at the man’s influence on the home in another article!)

In the light of the role that God has given to women – she is anointed with authority and grace (divine ability and know-how) to be a “life-giver” which was the Hebrew meaning for the name Eve. Every woman has the potential to be a life-giver not just through birthing children but in many ways, especially with her mouth! We all have the power of life and death in our tongues but for some reason God saw fit to equip women with a much more skilled articulacy than men – especially when it comes to their feelings! I say that without jest. Women are definitely gifted when it comes to words! But how easy it is to use our gifts in reverse!

A woman given to God can be especially radiant and can infuse life into her home simply by speaking life and encouragement over her loved ones; speaking those things that are not as though they already were (Rom 4:17) which speaks to their “now” as well as their “futures.” A godly woman will not just be self focused and concerned about articulating her own pain – but will be concerned about others. Chiefly the members of her “own” house hold. (It’s a crime when parents put on a show for others, this only shows children that their parents are more concerned about what others think, rather than about them).

In her “reverse” state (when a woman operates without the anointing) she can step into such a negative role. Instead of taking her place to “incite” faith in her family she is capable of doing the exact opposite. God spoke to Jeremiah in Chapter 1: 10; “The LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth... to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” God has also touched the mouth of women to be like Eve – a “life giver” - with her words. But the woman who operates in the flesh can only uproot, tear down and destroy – she can only fail to build and to plant. Every woman should ask her family, “Do you feel built up by me or put down?” the answer could be very revealing! In fact Proverbs 14:1 says in the NIV; “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” In other words every woman has moral virtues and contrary vices but I prefer to say quite simply, that it is spirit verses the flesh!

Her house is not bricks and mortar, her house is the people in it just like a church is not a building but the believers it represents. To build her house means to build up her family by making them feel significant instead of insignificant. Inspiring rather than unwiring! By encouraging rather than discouraging - all by the ability that she possesses as a woman. Jezebel also possessed this unique ability as a woman, to “STIR UP & INCITE” but it was not for good. Instead she incited her husband to do evil. Women can “spur-their-families-on” or “talk-them-down.” Rouse “champions” or “loses” – she is a co-creator! Does she know just how powerful her role can be? Or does she allow satan to keep talking her out of her position – just as he did in the garden of Eden! Think about it. If Lucifer knew that (woman’s) Eve’s role was “life-giver” and his was to steal kill and destroy – all he had to do was convince her to do the opposite of what she was created to do! (His tactics have never changed). Yet 1 Peter 3:4-6 tells us that a woman should not give way to fear or allow herself to become “hysterical” or “worked up in fear” about anything! (Fear is a strong motivator for most women!) The Amplified Bible says it the best way in verse 6; “ right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you].”

True tenderness is found in the Father heart of God and when it comes to our children; both parents should ask themselves “Would God ever treat these children the same way that I sometimes treat them?” This has the power to convict! God said to my wife on one occasion, when she was getting a little impatient with our small children one day when they were excessively fussing around before school, “I want you to treat these children to the best of your ability, the same way that I would treat you!” Needless to say this took her back and convicted her instantly!

In the Vine’s Dictionary the word “provoke” in our opening scripture means, “amiss, to make bitter.” But there is also a good side to provocation. For example one can be provoked towards truth. But provocation in the negative has the potential to “embitter” and to “STIR UP” what is negative in others (see 1King 21:25). All of us a times have incited each other through the flesh and even provoked our children a little at times because of pressures & frustrations. Every parent has fallen short…! But if people seem embittered everywhere we go – whether at home, in church or at work – it might be a good time to ask “could this be me who’s causing this?” or “Do I always get involved in an argument at work?” or “Do I always have to have the last say in everything?” or “Do I always stir things up…?” or “Do I find myself always stirring people up or do I speak the peace and love of God into every situation?” (These are good self-examining questions! Anyone unwilling to “self-adjust” is unwilling to change and expects everyone else to change instead - which is just another description of PRIDE!)

Finally repentance is at hand – especially if we have found ourselves yielding to strife more than God’s Spirit. Even consider this as we close - Jezebel, when left unchallenged, made other people’s lives a misery. If we function outside of God’s anointing we cannot bring life. Eve might mean “life-giver” in Hebrew but in the New Testament anyone who walks with the Holy Spirit can be a “life-giver” as seen here in our final scripture John 6:63 “It is the Spirit Who gives life [He is the Life-giver]; the flesh conveys no benefit whatever [there is no profit in it]. The words (truths) that I have been speaking to you are spirit and life.”

The Holy Spirit can use our words to build people up – He never breaks them down. He convicts and does not condemn as He is not the accuser of the brethren and nor does the role of “stealing, killing and destruction” belong to Him (John 10:10). So if we “build-people-up” it is easy to see who we are collaborating with! On the contrary if we are always negative and “pull-people-down,” it’s equally easy to see who we are NOT collaborating with – the Spirit of God! We are all capable of causing the same kind of grief and misery as Jezebel did. She knew not how to “bless” only to “manipulate” and “intimidate” those around her. People ran around franticly trying to “please” or to “avoid” her! Continual and unnecessary “provocation” wares people out. They “tire-easily” without the presence of God. Therefore we must allow the Holy Spirit alone to provoke people through us, with His LOVE. Amen!

Father forgive me for anytime that I have controlled those around me. Pulled them down and failed to life them up – especially the members of my own family. But today is day of great hope and expectation for me. Just as You have lavished me with Your love - help me by Your Spirit to be an “extravagant” lover of other people’s souls. Use me to “nurture-life” in others and not “stifle-life” in others. Use me to stir up love, never strife or contention. I want a legacy of love and tolerance not of misery. Amen.

You are love that endures forever. You have tenderness and consideration. Your resources never run dry and You are cultivating tolerance and long suffering in me. My behaviour is love-soaked and “tolerable” for others! Hallelujah!


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2010 © Alan Pateman Ministries


Post a Comment