Strife is that terrible evil spirit that creates an atmosphere of anger that hangs just below the surface. It makes you miserable and causes bickering, arguing—all sorts of things that offend people. You can sense it in the room, but nobody is really facing up to what is really going on.
Strife is a trap the devil lays to destroy marriages, businesses and even churches.
It’s very important that to understand strife, how dangerous it is and learn how to stand against it.
Two Culprits of Strife
Many things can cause strife, but two causes the Bible mentions are jealousy and greed. Proverbs 28:25 says, He who is of a greedy spirit stirs up strife, but he who puts his trust in the Lord shall be enriched and blessed.
Now, if you truly trust God, I can tell you there’s no need for you to ever be jealous of anybody. If you believe God loves you and has a plan for your life, and if you believe that His timing is always right, there is no need to envy a single person.
People who are greedy and never satisfied with what they have and who always want more—stir up strife for a couple of reasons.
1. “I want this, I want that…”
Your wants can cause strife, whether it’s for a promotion, a material thing, or even a ministry. Many times people get into “works of the flesh,” (trying to achieve things in your own power instead of God’s). James 4:1 says, How do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members? When you covet what others have, your desires go unfulfilled.
2. “If I only had…I’d be happy.”
Think about this for a moment: How consistently content are you? Are you constantly telling God, “If only I had…I’d be happy.” When people are dissatisfied, they tend to cause trouble. Think about how easy it is to be resentful and stir strife when you don’t get what you want. You can get critical of others real quick, but it’s not other people or circumstances that make you unsatisfied. It is a lack of trust in God’s providence for your life. (See Psalm 37:4 NASB.)
Two Ways to Keep Strife Out of Your Life
Consider who you spend your time with. I want to ask you a question: What kind of character do your friends have? Think about the people you eat lunch with at work or those you consider your closest friends. Do they gossip? Are their attitudes generally negative or positive? Now, we aren’t supposed to cut ourselves off from everybody who isn’t a Christian, and there may be someone who needs to see your witness. But I always tell people, “Make sure you are affecting the people you spend time with instead of letting them infect you.” There’s a big difference.
Guard your heart. I believe that you pick up what you spend time with and what you open your heart to. For example, when I’m around someone who is negative, I guard my heart because you cannot leave the doors of your heart wide open to people who are greedy, jealous, critical or judgmental. If you’re open to that stuff, it’s more likely you will pick up these negative spirits.
Here’s the Bottom Line on Strife
Being greedy, covetous and jealous is actually a very serious sin. Thou shalt not covet is one of the “big ten.” (See Exodus 20:1-17.) It goes against God’s will for us to want what other people have. It’s okay for you to think I’d like to have that one day. But it becomes wrong when you have a bad attitude attached to it.
When you see someone who has something you want, it’s wrong to consider taking what they have. Instead, ask God to help you be genuinely happy for them. In the meantime, keep all the strife out of your life and be a blessing wherever you go.