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Divine Discord: Definition of Strife in the Bible

The Biblical Definition of Strife

When it comes to the pages of the Bible, we often encounter the term “strife.” It’s a word that appears throughout both the Old and New Testaments, woven into various narratives and teachings. In a broad sense, strife refers to emotional or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism. It’s a state of being at odds with someone, a situation of dispute or disagreement. Strife in the Bible typically pertains to various conflicts, whether personal debates, societal discord, or spiritual battles.

Different translations of the Bible use various terms for strife, such as contention, discord, rivalry, or even quarrel. The context and the particular word chosen in each translation can add nuance to the understanding of strife in a biblical sense. Hence, the definition of strife in the Bible is multifaceted, presenting an image of conflict that resonates internally and externally.

Strife in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for strife is ‘madon,’ which often implies a sustained contention or discord. In this context, the battle is frequently represented as conflict among individuals, between nations, or even within a single person’s heart.

One of the notable stories involving strife in the Old Testament is that of Cain and Abel. Their story is a poignant example of how jealousy and resentment can lead to fierce battles, ultimately resulting in the tragedy of fratricide. Another powerful example is the ongoing conflict between Jacob and Esau, which originated from familial favoritism and perceived deception, leading to a lifetime of discord.

These stories, among others, highlight the seriousness of strife in the Old Testament and its potential for causing deep-seated discord and destruction.

Strife in the New Testament

Moving on to the New Testament, the Greek word for strife is ‘eris,’ which often indicates contention, debate, or wrangling. Here, strife often surfaces as conflict within the early church or between believers and unbelievers.

An example of this can be seen in the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas in the Book of Acts. Their sharp contention over John Mark’s involvement in their missionary journey led to a parting of ways. Another instance is the ongoing strife between Jesus and the Pharisees, a conflict rooted in differing interpretations of the law and the nature of God’s kingdom.

These New Testament examples are stark reminders of how strife can disrupt harmony and unity, even within faith communities.

Causes and Consequences of Strife

Strife often originates from a complex mixture of pride, jealousy, anger, and disagreement. Pride can lead to self-righteousness, causing individuals to view their perspective as supreme, leading to strife. Envy, as we saw in the story of Cain and Abel, can incite resentment and conflict. Anger, if left unchecked, can lead to arguments and discord. Whether theological, personal, or societal, disagreements can spiral into prolonged strife if not addressed with respect and understanding.

The consequences of strife are far-reaching. They can rupture relationships, fracture communities, and sow seeds of unrest. As the Book of Proverbs warns, “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife” (Proverbs 17:1). Similarly, James writes, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).

In our next sections, we’ll explore how strife can specifically affect the family and the church and how the Bible offers guidance to navigate these difficult waters.

Strife and the Family

Strife within the family can be incredibly challenging. From disputes among siblings to tension between parents, strife can strain the bonds that hold a family together. Biblical narratives offer us insight into these complex dynamics. Think about Joseph and his brothers: jealousy led to discord and separation, a powerful example of family strife.

Scripture also provides advice on handling such conflicts. In Colossians, we read, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). This advice offers a way forward: through patience, forgiveness, and the application of grace that we have received.

Another valuable piece of wisdom comes from Ephesians: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). These verses emphasize the importance of letting go of negative emotions and embodying kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

Strife and the Church

Despite being a spiritual sanctuary, the church is not immune to strife. The New Testament contains numerous instances of conflict within the early Christian community. One key example is the disagreement among church members in Corinth, leading Paul to plead for unity: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Paul’s teachings highlight that unity in the church is crucial, and he provides practical advice for resolving strife: focusing on Christ, prioritizing common ground over differences, and upholding love as the highest virtue.

Overcoming Strife: Biblical Principles and Practical Applications

While strife is an inherent part of human existence, it’s not something we’re meant to be trapped in. The Bible offers abundant wisdom on overcoming strife, with principles and practical applications that we can incorporate into our lives.

The role of humility in overcoming strife cannot be overstated. The first step toward resolution is recognizing that our understanding or perspective isn’t infallible. Forgiveness, another essential principle, involves letting go of resentment and choosing love over bitterness, just as God forgives us. Reconciliation, a critical aspect of overcoming strife, is about repairing broken relationships, rebuilding trust, and restoring unity.

Biblical figures who successfully overcame strife offer us valuable lessons. Joseph, for example, chose forgiveness and reconciliation over resentment toward his brothers, transforming family strife into harmony. Despite being pursued by Saul, David decided not to retaliate, embodying humility and forgiveness.

The Role of Prayer in Overcoming Strife

Prayer serves as a vital tool in resolving strife and seeking divine guidance. Prayer allows us to express our struggles, seek wisdom, and request peace.

One of the most meaningful prayers regarding unity and harmony is in Psalm 133: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” This Psalm is a powerful prayer, expressing the hope and beauty of living without strife. Another example is Colossians 3:12-14, where Paul prays for the church to be adorned with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience — essential for overcoming strife.

Incorporating prayer into overcoming strife requires consistency, sincerity, and faith. It involves continually seeking God’s guidance, expressing our shortcomings, and requesting the strength to forgive, reconcile, and live in harmony.

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Overcoming Strife

The Holy Spirit is significant in helping believers navigate through and overcome strife. Often referred to as the “Comforter” or “Counselor,” the Holy Spirit offers guidance and wisdom during conflict and disagreement.

Galatians 5:22-23 introduces us to the “fruit of the Spirit,” which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These qualities are crucial in overcoming strife. For example, patience and self-control can help manage reactive responses during the conflict, while kindness and gentleness can promote healing and reconciliation.

Relying on the Holy Spirit during strife involves acknowledging our limitations and seeking divine wisdom. This process might include consistent prayer, studying scriptures related to peace and reconciliation, or seeking godly counsel from trusted spiritual mentors.

In Conclusion: Living in Harmony and Unity

Understanding the definition of strife in the Bible is crucial as a theological exercise and a practical guide for navigating conflicts. From the family to the church, and even within our hearts, strife can sow seeds of discord and unrest.

The good news is that we cannot grapple with strife alone. The Bible offers comprehensive wisdom on how to deal with and overcome the battle. It emphasizes the importance of humility, forgiveness, and reconciliation and underscores the critical roles of prayer and the Holy Spirit.

Overcoming strife is not just about resolving conflicts. It’s about striving to live in harmony and unity, as Paul describes in Ephesians 4:3: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” As we journey through life’s challenges, let’s continually seek God’s guidance and strength to overcome strife and live in the peace and unity He desires.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does the Bible say about dealing with strife in relationships?

The Bible provides much wisdom on managing strife in relationships. It encourages humility, understanding, patience, and love. Verses such as Proverbs 15:18 remind us, “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”

How can I overcome strife in my family from a biblical perspective?

Overcoming family strife involves forgiveness, reconciliation, and love. Verses such as Colossians 3:13 and Ephesians 4:32 provide practical guidance: we’re encouraged to bear with each other, forgive as the Lord forgave us, and rid ourselves of bitterness and anger.

What are some practical ways to resolve conflicts within the church as a believer?

Biblical ways to resolve conflicts within the church include seeking unity, promoting dialogue, and applying the principles of love and understanding. Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 stress the importance of unity and avoidance of divisions within the church.

How can I rely on the Holy Spirit to help me overcome strife?

The Holy Spirit provides comfort, guidance, and wisdom. By praying, studying the scriptures, and cultivating the fruit of the Spirit, we can lean on the Holy Spirit for help in overcoming strife.

What are some effective strategies for maintaining unity and harmony in strife?

Maintaining unity and harmony involves practicing humility, expressing forgiveness, seeking reconciliation, and striving for peace. This process can be enriched by regular prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Andrew

Im Andrew, I am an Intercessory Missionary in Kansas City. My journey through trials and triumphs has equipped me with unique insight and a deep passion for encountering Jesus and understanding prophetic experiences.

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