Second Question – “What are the causes of strife in our lives?” Sometimes we experience strife because of disappointments in life. Disappointment almost always leads to strife, because someone eventually has to express to others the disappointment that they’ve experienced with them. Another cause of strife is deception. When we lie to others, or others lie to us, it always creates strife in a relationship. Demeaning or critical words also causes strife in our relationships. Some people are critical, sarcastic, negative or hurtful with their words and their words and our responses to their words create strife.
Pride is another cause of strife in life. Proverbs 13:10 reads, “Pride leads to arguments.” Selfishness is another cause of strife in life, as are malicious words or actions. Fear and worry create strife in relationships. People often express their fears and worries in unhealthy ways, which causes strife. Jealousy and envy are causes of strife, as are insecurity and a sense of inadequacy. Anger and bitterness also create stress in relationships. Angry and bitter people are always in conflict with others.
Second Question – “What would life be like for you, if there was little or no strife and conflict in life?” Life would certainly be more peaceful and joyful, and probably more productive. Some conflict is necessary to strengthen and improve relationships, but life and relationships would be much better if we and others really concentrated on eliminating unneeded strife in our lives.
The Bible teaches that we should strive for peace rather than strife in the relationships of our lives. We can have peace with God once we receive Jesus as our Savior. Romans 5:1 reads, “Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” We will continue to be at peace with God as long as we love Him and live for Him. We should also be at peace with others. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9), and Paul wrote, “Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible” (Romans 12:18).
Third Question – “How is it possible to eliminate much of the strife in our lives, and live in peace with others?” First, we must deal with our own dysfunctional attitudes and behavior that contributes to strife in relationships. Do you struggle with anger, bitterness, covetousness, a critical spirit, a demeaning attitude, envy, fear, frustration, greed, hatred, hurt, insecurity, jealousy, malice, pride, rebellion, ungodly thoughts, selfishness, unforgiveness, worry, or any other such negative emotions or ungodly desires? If you do, you must be willing to recognize them, repent of them thoroughly, and release such attitudes and ambitions to the Holy Spirit. When we are willing to address our own dysfunctions and sins, the Lord will cleanse and deliver us, and position us to have peace-filled rather than strife-filled relationships.
Second, to have peace-filled rather than strife-filled relationships, we must “esteem others more highly than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3). When we are more concerned about the welfare of others than our own self-interests or desires, we will live peace-filled lives. Third, we must live daily in the power of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit’s presence and power can enable us to overlook and overcome the hurtful attitudes, actions and words of others. There will be strife and conflict in life, but when we are living Spirit-filled lives, our focus is on the Lord rather than others, enabling and empowering us to overcome the hurtful works and words of others.
As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to show you the wrong ambitions, attitudes and actions in your life that create strife in your relationship with God and others, and seek forgiveness from the Lord; 2) Pray for others in your life who have ungodly ambitions, attitudes and actions; and 3) Pray that the Lord would grant you and others a peace-filled, rather than a strife-filled life.