Revealing Truth Today

Standing for the truth and sharing Jesus with others!

When Christians Quarrel

“Avoiding strife is an honor for a person, but any fool will quarrel.” ~Proverbs 20:3

Allow me relay a true story, for example purposes…

Firstly, by way of a preface, I want to be clear that I do not wish to slander or give names in this example. I would never wish to bury a person so deep as to make them feel more like an enemy than a comrade. Also, we know that people can change, and later, see the error of their ways. Once again, this true story is used for example purposes only…

Many will know who I am speaking of by the description of this story; after all, the story is public knowledge that has been freely shared online. The story involves a Christian family who got involved in a family feud over money.

You see, the parents, their Daughter, and Son-in-Law were all part of the same reality TV show. According to the Daughter, her parents (namely, her Father), refused to pay her and her husband the funds which they felt they earned from the show. The Father gave his reasons for withholding payment, but the Daughter and Son-in-Law still didn’t agree. The younger couple sued the elder couple and won back the money in court.

After hearing this story, there are not many who take a neutral position. Some will be on the side of the parents, while others will be on the side of the Daughter. If we look at this court case as any fair juror should – we would not let our personal experiences influence our position. Yet, if a particular juror were to have had bad parents, it’s possible that they might allow themselves to side with the Daughter in revenge toward the parents – living vicariously through the Daughter; grasping for some sort of justice for themselves, also. If another juror had a ‘problem child’ with whom they were estranged, they might side with the parents in an effort to feel some slight rush of vindication and consolation for all they’d been through in their own life. However, it is important that both sides be heard with fairness.

I use this true story as an example for us all. How many times have we, perhaps, balked at an authority figure because of some past trauma with another authority figure? How many times have we, perhaps, treated the ‘underdog’ with disdain in order to make ourselves feel more powerful?

You see, it’s so hard for us to get ourselves off of our minds. The famous singer, Elvis Presley, sang a love song which said, “You were always on my mind”… however, so many could easily sing the song, looking at themselves in the mirror.

The Proper Christian Response

Can we (or do we) allow ourselves to be wronged in order to keep peace among fellow-Believers; committing it to God’s hands, instead?

Not often.

It’s a hard position to take in this dog-eat-dog world. Society teaches us to throw a childish fit when we do not get our way; after all, if it feels good – do it (they teach). Some of the same people shaking their heads in disgust at race riots, in like manner, take part in personal ‘riots’ of their own. They are gossiping, slanderous, unforgiving, and bitter grudge-holders who riot and rail against one another when they feel slighted. And yes, even some professing Christians take part in such behaviors.

Lest we forget amidst the overpowering voices of society, we must recall this biblical truth from 1st Corinthians 6:4-8: “So if you need to settle everyday matters, do you appoint as judges those of no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Is there really no one among you wise enough to arbitrate between his brothers? Instead, one brother goes to law against another, and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means that you are thoroughly defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, even against your own brothers!”

When it’s Hard to Forgive

Haven’t we, ourselves, been forgiven much? Yet, when it comes time for us to show forgiveness, grace, and mercy to another – we balk, we resist. Why? Because, we think the other fellow is ‘getting away’ with wronging us.

Rest assured, no one is ‘getting away’ with anything. Jesus said: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37).

Scripture also states: “A hateful man disguises himself with his speech, but he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. Though his hatred is concealed by deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly” (Proverbs 26:24-26).

And remember this scripture: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).

While we know evil and misdeeds will be punished, let us also strive to live in peace. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…” (Heb. 12:14-15).

Another reason why many are not so keen on forgiving is because they feel the offence toward them is too severe to forgive. In truth, the offence may have, indeed, been severe and deeply hurtful. Nonetheless, that does not mean that forgiveness isn’t required; even if no apology is ever offered. This is a hard truth for many of us to ‘swallow’, as it were. Remember, the narrow path that leads to life eternal isn’t always a comfortable one to travel. It can be full of crosses, losses, sorrows, and (what feels like) tremendous injustices. If it were an easy path, everyone would be on it; only a few will find this path and stay on it. Jesus said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). As so aptly stated by A.W. Tozer, “It will take some courage at first, but the needed grace will come as we learn that we are sharing this new and easy yoke with the strong Son of God Himself.”

When I think of reasons why forgiveness is not freely offered by certain individuals, I think of this innate self-preservation mechanism most of us have. Some think if they refuse to forgive, it will keep them from being hurt again. However, let’s not fool ourselves… we are doing ourselves far more eternal harm by harboring unforgiveness. In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Forgiving someone does not mean that we condone their sin. Forgiving someone does not mean that we keep pushing ourselves on someone if they are not apt to restore the friendship/relationship. All we can do is strive to live at peace with all… as much as it lies within us. In Romans 12: 18, scripture teaches, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” We can’t control another person’s response – and if the offender is dead, restoration is out of reach. Thus, scripture teaches us to do our part only… “as much as depends on you”.  If we’ve done all we can (according to Matthew 18:15-17) and the sinning Christian friend/relative refuses to hear us, we are taught to no longer regard them as a Christian. Wow! That is serious! This person stands in desperate need of prayer. There, oftentimes, is a rightful distance that will ensue upon this discovery. (Please note, the standard is a bit different for marriage relationships – see 1st Corinthians 7).

Certainly, there are numerous other reasons why people choose to harbor unforgiveness. However, a big reason for unforgiveness is simply because people have too high a view of themselves… this is part of our sinful, human nature. The Apostle Paul was given a ‘thorn in his flesh’ to keep him humbled so he wouldn’t become prideful in the ways that God was using his life. Likewise, the Bible teaches in Romans 12:3, for a person “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly…”

Meekness Matters

Are we willing to admit when we are wrong? Can we meekly humble ourselves to ask for forgiveness from God and man? Or are we too prideful; too perfect? Even if a person was, indeed, the ‘innocent party’ to begin with – can they not soon become guilty by way of pride and grudge-holding? (Read that again). As the old saying goes, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”  It’s not up to us to teach people a ‘lesson’ by slandering them, harming them, or giving them the proverbial cold shoulder treatment. God is the Teacher, and a very capable one, at that. We are to be the humble and meek students who follow God’s ways.  Remember, there are Godly ways to resolve conflict (see Matt. 18:15-17, 1st Tim. 5:1-2, etc.) – But, being obtuse, overbearing, and haughty is NOT the right way.

The beloved preacher, A.W. Tozer once said: “Let us examine our burden. It is altogether an interior one. It attacks the heart and the mind and reaches the body only from within. First, there is the burden of pride. The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think for yourself whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol. How then can you hope to have inward peace?”

Tozer continues, “The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest. Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable. Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them. Such a burden as this is not necessary to bear. Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort. He develops toward himself a kindly sense of humor and learns to say, “Oh, so you have been overlooked? They have placed someone else before -you? They have whispered that you are pretty small stuff after all? And now you feel hurt because the world is saying about you the very things you have been saying about yourself? Only yesterday you were telling God that you were nothing, a mere worm of the dust. Where is your consistency? Come on, humble yourself, and cease to care what men think.”

He concludes, “The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels. In himself… nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values. He will be patient to wait for the day when everything will get its own price tag and real worth will come into its own. Then the righteous shall shine forth in the Kingdom of their Father. He is willing to wait for that day. In the meantime, he will have attained a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness, he will be happy to let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found the peace which meekness brings.”

Gossip = Division

“Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, a conflict ceases.” ~Proverbs 26:20

Have you ever had someone corner you to ‘share some concerns’ about another person (i.e. gossip)? Did you knowingly, or unknowingly, listen to the slanderous claims? If this happens, it’s best to stop it before it goes any further. “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts” Proverbs 17:14.

If the Gossiper is not a Christian, the slanderous speech is to be expected, yet, stopped. If the Gossiper claims to be a Christian, then we (as fellow Christians) should advise them to follow the Biblical route for handling disputes and conflicts (see Matthew 18:15-17).

In scripture, we find those who gossip described as “tale-bearers” and “whisperers”. In his sermon, “Satan Found a Whisperer”, the beloved evangelist, Keith Daniel, tells many true accounts of how gossip and slander have destroyed many families and friendships. Among the abominable things God hates, one who sows discord (stirs up trouble; a whisperer) among Believers, is on the list (see Proverbs 6:19). Again and again, we are instructed throughout scripture to “Speak not evil one of another, brethren…” (see James 4:11, Eph. 4:29-32, etc.).

In fact, Romans 1:29 groups such evil-speakers/whisperers in the same category as the “haters of God”, “untrustworthy”, “unforgiving” and “unmerciful”, just to name a few! Romans 1:32 goes on to say that those who practice such things are deserving of death – yet continue in their wicked ways and approve of others who practice such wicked ways. Such a person is further described in Proverbs 16:27 -28 as being ungodly and perverse: “An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire. A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.”

The well-known preacher of the 1800s, Charles H. Spurgeon put it like this: “Satan greatly approves at our railing at each other, but God does not.” And, “He that perverts truth shall soon be incapable of knowing the true from the false. If you persist wearing glasses that distort, everything will be distorted to you.” When people begin believing their own distortions about another person, they soon begin believing their own concocted lies which turns them even more against the person. Seeds of discord may not have an immediate effect; but that seed soon gets watered (oftentimes, by more gossip) and grows into a great division and disdain for another soul.

God Sees Us at Home

“True Christianity follows a man home.” ~Pastor Tim Conway

All too often, many Christians let their guard down at home. They feel more at liberty to behave in the manner of least internal resistance, which is, oftentimes, the way of the sinful human nature. Somehow, the scriptural principle of ‘bridling the tongue’ only seems to apply to them when they are at church or around certain individuals. We are all in need of the Savior’s redemptive work; but it seems that some struggle in the area of self-discipline more than others. For some, the proverbial ‘wagging of the tongue’ seems to be a part of their persona. Others may not be tempted in this area, but will be tempted to sin in other areas.

If there is a besetting sin which we have not yet attained the victory over, let us keep striving to keep our hearts and minds pure before God and man (see Acts 24:16). Never say, “That’s just how I am… I have always been a Gossip.” No, no, no! Strive to gain victory over this besetting sin! If a member of a Christian household is known to have a weakness in this area, the other family members should help guide them to victory through accountability and prayer.

Likewise, if a person with a besetting sin is truly seeking forgiveness for such a sin, let us not grow weary of forgiving. “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…” (Matt. 18:21-22). We certainly do not condone the sin – but we should show mercy to a person who may have sinned in a moment of weakness, yet, is repentant.

Without identifying anyone; I will say that there is a certain family in our neighborhood where the Dad often sits outside on his porch, listening to Christian radio. He’s been known, on occasion, to even sing along to the songs of praise, unashamedly, which is wonderful to hear. However, when he is particularly stressed out, he has fits of rage, full of cursing, throwing things, and screaming.

Personally, I will admit that I am not as patient of a person as I should be, and I really have to watch my temperament when I am under stress. Therefore, I don’t mentally judge my neighbor harshly; still, I wonder how sweet and bitter water can come from the same stream? Sure, we all mess up. We all miss the mark, at times. We all need forgiveness and mercy from our Savior. But when such ‘mess ups’ are habitual; well, there is a big problem.

James 3:6-10 states: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”

This entire section could be summed up by the words of the great American evangelist, D.L. Moody… “A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian – and most of all, his family ought to know.” Let’s not be double-faced hypocrites; for God knows and sees all. Nothing is hidden from Him, as stated in Proverbs 15:3: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

Can’t I Defend Myself?

Short answer… to a degree; but, a much lesser degree than most of us think.

It’s okay to speak about what you said or did in an effort to clear up a misunderstanding and/or to diffuse a quarrel. It’s okay to ask or answer questions, to an extent, in regards to a conflict between you and another person (when speaking one-on-one with the person). However, let’s also remember the tone in which we speak. Remember, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).  

Some may feel justified in defending self, after all, didn’t Jesus defend Himself when the money-changers were at the Temple? Nonetheless, let’s remember that He was defending God and God’s Temple. A valuable lesson I’ve learned (online) from Elder Zac Poonen, of CFC church in India, is this: We defend the Gospel and God, just as Jesus did; but we needn’t strive to defend self. “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent” (quote by John Calvin). So yes, we must defend the truth of the Gospel while remembering to “turn the other cheek” when we, ourselves, are slapped in the face (see Matthew 5:38:45).

Since the days of Cain and Abel, mankind has been at war. Can’t we, as Christians, lay our weapons down, for once? Shouldn’t we, as God’s children, be the facilitators of peace, when possible? Will YOU take a stand?

Sources: Worldinvisible.com, Biblehub.com, Youtube.com, Canva.com

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