Summary: Many great congregations have suffered from people with divisive attitudes. The Lord has placed each of us in His body to be lovingly united in spirit, intent on one purpose, striving together for the faith of the gospel.
Overcoming Divisive Attitudes
Illustration:A monk joined a monastery and took a vow of silence. After the first 10 years his superior called him in and asked, "Do you have anything to say?" The monk replied, "Food bad." After another 10 years the monk again had opportunity to voice his thoughts. He said, "Bed hard." Another 10 years went by and again he was called in before his superior. When asked if he had anything to say, he responded, "I quit." "It doesn’t surprise me a bit. You’ve done nothing but complain ever since you got here."
Many great congregations have suffered from people with divisive attitudes. The Lord has placed each of us in His body to be lovingly united in spirit, intent on one purpose, striving together for the faith of the gospel. Minor disagreements often escalate into huge differences that could easily have been overlooked for the greater good of Christ’s kingdom and righteousness.
Let us look at some of the ways that the devil uses divisive attitudes to divide and defeat the causes of righteous.
1. The devil often counterattacks after a spiritual victory. Many times, our friends, family members and fellow believers will allow themselves to be used to discourage and bring division in the body of Christ. The Ephraimites criticized Gideon after his great victory saying,
"Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?" (Judges 8:1) The Ephraimites were the largest and most important of the tribes. The tabernacle was located in Shiloh in their territory. They complained to Gideon that he did not include them in the fight for the spoils of victory. They became embittered because of their prideful desires. None of them had volunteered to help raise money or troops for the battle. They behaved cowardly when they knew they had a responsibility to go out in the battle for the Lord.
Understand not only your intent, but the effects your communications will have for eternity
Illustration:Calvin, who saw that the Devil’s chief device was disunity and division and who preached that there should be friendly fellowship for all ministers of Christ, made a similar point in a letter to a trusted colleague: "Among Christians there ought to be so great a dislike of schism, as that they may always avoid it so fast as lies in their power. That there ought to prevail among them such a reverence for the ministry of the word and the sacraments that wherever they perceive these things to be, there they must consider the church to exist...nor need it be of any hindrance that some points of doctrine are not quite so pure, seeing that there is scarcely any church which has not retained some remnants of former ignorance."
Charles W. Colson, The Body, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 107-108
2. The Ephraimites allowed their jealous desires to get the best of their judgments. Their distorted perspectives created terrible division among God’s people.
Learn to put away your anger, jealousy and feelings of envy. Replace them with a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, even as God has done so with you. (Eph. 4:28)
3. Recognize that our main battle is not with people, but with our own selfish human nature, with the world and with the devil. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world." (I John 2:15,16)
4. Recognize that the weapons of a Spirit filled Christian are not fleshly, but spiritual. If you are resorting to intrigue, politics, and deceitful human scheming, be assured you will fail.
5. Recognize that God fights our battles for us. We should not fight, quarrel and bicker with one another out of anger. Instead, we should allow the Lord’s righteous purposes to be accomplished as we submit to His will, way, word and God led leaders. ( I Pet. 5:5,6)
6. Be careful of becoming bitter because you do not have what those around you enjoy. The Ephraimities became enraged because they started to compare their situations with others. Do not judge your success in terms of what other may or may not have. God is the only judge who evaluates without partiality. God alone holds all the facts and judges fairly.
7. Beware that the source of division often comes from within the church than from outside the denomination. Do not trust in people as they are bound to disappoint.
8. The Ephraimites were convinced that they should put their own interests before the greater good of the people of God. They gave no time to think about the concerns of greater Israel. Many people are so wrapped up in their own problems that they do not have time to consider the greater causes of evangelism, disciple-making or planting and growing churches.