Summary: Strife is a "work of the flesh" that must be avoided by Christians. This is a Biblical study on how to overcome this fault and ways to assist others with this problem.
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,...
It is a fact of life that we are always going to come in contact with people who have opinions and viewpoints that are different from our own AND people who will do and say things which we think to be improper and unjust.
There is an inclination in most of us to confront others who hold different viewpoints and those who conduct themselves differently with the purpose of getting them to adopt OUR viewpoints and OUR ways as their own.
Such confrontations are not always wrong. In fact, this kind of confrontation is a must for the Christian in cases where the other person’s 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).
The danger of confronting others, with the purpose of advancing a different viewpoint or manner of conduct,is that it 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.
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 to deal with differences, we should first quickly focus on IF and WHEN we should confront others!
*There are some people who presume that they are always the one in the right and that everybody should view things as they view them, 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."
*Then 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 folks need to develop thicker skins or a less judgmental spirit and greater self-control. MATTHEW 7:3-5, "And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s 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 brother’s 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 person’s 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 PETER 4:8, "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." which means 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 stife, 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 which restores 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 and, therefore, will seek peace with others around them, especially with fellow brethren. ROMANS 12:18, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." For, MATTHEW 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
2.SEEK A CONSTRUCTIVE SOLUTION. The confrontation should be entered into with the goal of arriving at a solution that will promote the best interests of the parties involved; strengthening each other’s characters and 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."