Summary: How to Overcome Contentiousness
How to Overcome Contention Acts 15:36-41
Illustration:Getting angry can sometimes be like leaping into a wonderfully responsive sports car, gunning the motor, taking off at high speed and then discovering the brakes are out of order.
Maggie Scarg in New York Times Magazine.
The contention between Paul and Barnabas grew so sharp that they had to part company. Even among godly leaders a quarrelsome spirit can make fellowship nearly impossible. Arguing over whether or not to take John Mark along with them, the two Godly leaders decided it was better that they split up rather than forge an amicable compromise. Contention that is rancorous is often unhealthy and self-destructive. When contention reaches a level of ugly strife in a competition or a controversy, it is time to examine oneâs motives. Belligerence in a contentious debate is often caused by stubborn self-willed perspectives, pride and selfish ambitions. Trust the Lord to help you to surrender your will to Godâs desires so that He can bring resolution to any and every contentious encounter.
2. Paul and Barnabas needed to be reminded that self-willed stubbornness is forbidden in 2 Chronicles 30:8 where Samuel wrote, "Do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the Lord and enter His sanctuary which He has consecrated forever and serve the Lord your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you." God knows that most contentious people are prideful believing it is either their way or the highway. Deep divisions often result from stubborn pride and self-will because contentious people are seen to be a law unto themselves. Trust the Lord to give you the ability to cooperate with people as far as it is possible. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor. (Romans 12:10)
3. Pride is the number one source of a contentious spirit. Solomon wrote, "By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom." (Prov. 13:10) Strife often results when two people engage in a fight, competition or struggle for power. Solomon also warned those who are prone to be contentious, "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling." (Prov. 16:18) Perhaps, the single biggest reason why contentious people fail to live up to their potential is their refusal to give control of their will over to the Sovereign Lord. Prideful people have an exaggerated sense of their own importance. Arrogant people fail to show respect for other peoplesâ ideas, worth or opinions. These individuals are over-bearing, haughty and high-minded. Contention often occurs when several people have an unwarranted sense of their own self-importance. Ask the Lord to help you to consistently humble yourself under the mighty hand of God while heeding the advise of Peter, "You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time." (I Pet. 5:5,6)