God created us to have relationships. The most important relationship is the one we have with Him through our faith in Christ. And when we have a healthy, personal, intimate connection with God, we can have great relationships with the people in our lives.
It’s God’s will for us to live in peace and harmony with one another. 1 Peter 3:11 (AMP) says we must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively – not merely desiring it].
Having peace with others doesn’t mean we won’t ever disagree, but we must do it respectfully and avoid strife!
The dictionary defines strife as “bickering, arguing, a heated disagreement, or an angry undercurrent.”
Strife is a terrible evil spirit that creates this atmosphere, and it’s one of the greatest threats to the body of Christ. It makes you miserable and causes bickering, arguing—all sorts of things that offend people. You can sense it in the room, but nobody wants to confront it.
Strife is a trap the devil lays to destroy marriages, businesses and even churches.
It’s very important to understand strife, how dangerous it is, and how to stand against it.
The Common Culprits of Strife
Many things can cause strife, but two causes the Bible mentions are jealousy and greed. Proverbs 28:25 says, A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.
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—who are never satisfied with what they have and 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 their own power instead of God’s).
James 4:1 says, What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts…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. (AMPC)
2. "If I only had (fill in the blank) I'd be happy." Think about this for a moment: How consistently content are you? Are you constantly telling God, “If only I had (this or that) I’d be happy”?
When people are dissatisfied, they tend to cause trouble. Think about how easy it is to be resentful and stir up 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 that God will provide what is best for you. (See Psalm 37:4)
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 will be people you need to reach so you can lead them to Christ. 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. You are influenced and become like those 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 those negative attitudes and mindsets.
Here's the Bottom Line on Strife
Being greedy, covetous and jealous is actually a very serious sin. Exodus 20:17 says, You shall not covet… It’s not God’s will for us to want what other people have.There’s nothing wrong with thinking of things you want to have one day. But it becomes wrong when you have a bad attitude attached to it.
When you see someone who has something you want, instead of being jealous about what they have, 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.