Thoughtful Thursday: The Source of Strife

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Yielding to God in the midst of conflict uses that strife for good and God’s glory.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 17:14

14 Starting a quarrel is like letting out water; stop it before strife breaks out! 19 The one who loves a quarrel loves transgression; whoever builds his gate high seeks destruction.

Proverbs 20:3

Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.

James 4:1-2

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.”

James 3:14

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

I am afraid I might step on toes with today’s post, but the truths in this post have stepped on mine in the past, too. You can’t go through life without strife, but finding the source of that strife helps to move through it.

Motives of the heart are not so easy to discern, but eventually God reveals the source of dissension. Whether it is a competitive spirit, selfish ambition, jealousy or just our flesh being sensitive or irritable, the root of all conflict is spiritual.

Recognizing the battle is spiritual takes away offense. Instead of thinking about self, what we want or being offended, we start to think about why the conflict happened in the first place and how God can be glorified in it. It might be our flesh or the enemy influencing our thought patterns, but we still have a choice. The battle is not against another person – it is ultimately the LORD’s.

After we recognize the spiritual aspect of our conflict, at the heart of discord is self. Somehow in someway we take on an offense for an impression that someone else did not treat us the way we thought we deserved or maybe we assume they did.

I like to avoid drama and needless strife. Seems scriptural, too – not to get involved in civilian affairs. But sometimes God allows strife in and accomplishes amazing fruit in an unlikely way.

What used to break my spirit when others would misjudge or mistreat me is now something I am grateful for. I know it seems pious, but God has shown me how some of the hardest moments of persecution, strife or being shunned have truly served to draw me nearer to God and to trust Him. It hurts, but it no longer affects me the way it once did.

Instead of trying to have everyone like us, we can pray for them and choose to rise above the fray. Maybe we need to examine ourselves and maybe we just need to surrender it over to the LORD. The end of a matter is better than its beginning, but yielding to God in the midst uses that strife for good and God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for helping us to rise above problems and difficulties and for choosing to delight in You, instead. Help us to remember the battle is a spiritual one and to seek Your glory and not our own.

Truthful Tuesday: Judging Judgment

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Romans 14:12

“Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.”

1 Peter 4:17

“For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?”

Judgment.  No one wants to be the recipient, but all have been participants in either judging others or being judged themselves.

In His perfect wisdom, God designed a system of justice in place to judge our actions.  Man sets up his own system of judgment, too, to condemn one another.

At the root of judgment from any human being is pride.  Pride in our own sinful, myopic condition that we would think we could ever be in a place to pass judgment on another creation, made in God’s image.

There are so many more motivations in the act of judgment, though. Sometimes we want to make ourselves feel better about our decisions, or we manipulate others with judgment to try to get them to do something we want.

Sounds pretty ugly.  That’s because judgment from man is going to be man-centered, but judgment that Christ gives is perfect and redemptive.

God judges our hearts to bring us to repentance and show us our sinful condition.  Man judges to prove a position, inflict pain, manipulate or inflate self.

Man cannot judge other’s motivations, for we cannot see the heart – only God can.  Still, the default sinful condition of man is to presume and judge brothers or sisters in Christ.

Despite out corrupt nature, we do not have to give in to judgment.  The heart of man is deceitful, but God.  He is gracious and able to help us lay down our judgments and put on forgiveness.  Sometimes people can hurt us and boundaries have to be put up so they cannot hurt or condemn us further.  Sometimes we have to lay down our desire to please man in his faulty judgments, too.

Maybe some of us feel we deserve judgment – we all do.  But Christ bore that judgment for us all.  In this world we have relationships that are broken from sin and ensuing consequences, and people will judge us until the day we die, but all of those judgments fall off our shoulders and are laid at the feet of our Savior – the One, perfect, Righteous Judge.

Lord, thank You for the sweet victory You give to walk in freedom and forgiveness.  Thank You for bearing our judgment.  Help us to consider others better than ourselves and to discern others in the light of the grace that we have been given.