Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Closing the Door to Strife
GALATIANS 5:19-20 ;Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife (KJV)
1 CORINTHIANS 1:20 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 JOHN 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
It is a fact of life that we will always come in contact with people who have opinions and viewpoints that are different from our own. People will almost always do and say things which we ourselves believe to be improper and unjust. There is an inclination for people from different church backgrounds, experiences and denominations to confront others who hold different viewpoints and conduct themselves differently with the purpose of convincing them to adopt OUR ways as their own.
Such confrontations are not always wrong. In fact, a certain kind of confrontation is a must for the Christian in cases where the other persons viewpoints are contrary to Godly thinking and their conduct is contrary to the clear teachings of the New Testament scriptures, (GALATIANS 6:1; JAMES 5:19-20). But they are not always necessary when it comes to disputable matters within the body of Christ.
Scores of theologians have argued these points for centuries and we will not solve them in our lifetime! However, we can get people saved and disciple them according to Gods word.
The danger of confronting others with the purpose of advancing a different viewpoint or changing someone's conduct often leads to STRIFE. Strife - arguing, quarreling, fighting, bickering and contending - is never justifiable. Strife is sin - a work of the flesh - and should not be part of our lives or the life of the church body as a whole.
The world watches us as a church, and there have been people who have been a part of ministries that had rampant strife within their church. More than likely they either left the church, or became disgruntled with God because the strife was not dealt with on a constructive level.
GraceTown Church strives to live out Romans 15:5 and Ephesians 4:3:
ROMANS 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
EPHESIANS 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
This statement of unity does not mean that we accept continual unscriptural lifestyles, heretical doctrines or blatant sins within our church. There are scripturally neutral areas of church and in our personal lives that are continually up for interpretation and discussion outsides the confines of a functioning church body.
If we make the disagreements of the church our focus, we will struggle to accomplish anything. This means that at GraceTown Church we strive to maintain a spirit of unity within our church. If we are not all on the same page we will not have a life giving culture but a life taking culture. GraceTown is about giving life. Therefore, we have to implement a life giving culture within our church and that is making sure we are free from strife.
Satan loves strife within the church because fighting amongst ourselves keeps us from taking down the kingdom of darkness. The Bible teaches a more seemly and (potentially) constructive way to deal with individual differences than to start or continue in strife.
Before discussing HOW to confront others, we should first quickly focus on IF and WHEN we should confront them! There are some people who presume they are always the one in the right and that everybody else should view things as they do, hold the same opinions they hold, and live in the exact same manner as they live. (Remember, we are speaking about areas that are Scripturally neutral.) They are arrogant individuals who nit-pick and often start arguments.
PROVERBS 28:25, An arrogant man stirs-up strife.
PROVERBS 13:10, Through presumption comes nothing but strife.
To counter such strife, these individuals need a change in attitude:
ROMANS 12:16, do not be haughty in mind, ...Do not be wise in your own estimation.
There are also people who get all worked-up and/or offended by the littlest of matters and in response, cause big fracases. Obviously, these people need to develop a thicker skin, a less judgmental spirit, and greater self-control.
MATTHEW 7:3-5 And why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye, and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to take the speck out of your brothers eye.
PROVERBS 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs-up strife, but the slow to anger pacifies contention.
In determining IF we should confront others due to differences, each of us (and especially those who belong to the two groups we just spoke of) must ask ourselves, Is the other persons opinion/viewpoint SO misguided, SO harmful, SO wrong that it must be discussed with the purpose of changing it? Are their actions and/or statements SO inappropriate and SO hurtful that they must be confronted, reproved, and corrected? If not, we need to practice forbearance and overlook differences:
1 PETER4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
EPHESIANS 4:2 with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love.
COLOSSIANS 3:13 bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
If the differences between two parties are significant and create real barriers to a normal, healthy, and cooperative relationship then confrontation is necessary. However, to avoid the occurrence of strife, the individual(s) need to follow four simple Biblical guidelines -
1. SEEK A PEACEFUL SOLUTION.
Never confront someone with the purpose to argue, fight, or quarrel. Seek a solution to the situation in order to restore peace and harmony.
PROVERBS 20:3 Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel. Christians are servants of the Prince of Peace, therefore, are required to seek peace with others, especially those of the household of faith.
ROMANS 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
MATTHEW 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
2. SEEK A CONSTRUCTIVE SOLUTION.
Any confrontation should be entered into with the goal of arriving at a solution that will promote the best interests of the parties involved; strengthen each others character and deepen the relationship as a whole.
ROMANS 14:19 So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building-up of one another.
PROVERBS 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
3. BE AN ATTENTIVE LISTENER.
During the confrontation, be respectful to the other persons thoughts and feelings. (Many times, showing respectfulness will lessen the likelihood that the other person will become obnoxious.) Be willing to hear them out before making final judgments and drawing conclusions. Understanding another's point of view will always help in coming-up with a more comprehensive solution.
JAMES 1:19 let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak.
PROVERBS 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.
4. BE KIND AND GENTLE.
When one has to correct and point-out a fault, it must be done with kindness and gentleness which never seeks to hurt.
PROVERBS 16:23, 21, 24, The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds persuasiveness to his lips. The wise in heart will be called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
EPHESIANS 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.