“Let There Be No Strife”

Steve Klein

When contention arose between the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abram, “Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren'” (Genesis 13:8). God’s friend Abraham knew that brotherhood demands the cessation of strife. I fear that some brethren today believe that brotherhood demands incessant strife.

Some practical measures for keeping peace include the following:

1. DO NOT START A QUARREL!
Proverbs 17:14 says, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” While it is true that there are principles of truth that must be defended, argued and contended for (Jude 3, Philippians 1:17), MANY quarrels among brethren are over things that have not even been revealed in Scripture. Others involve judging hearts and motives by appearance, instead of judging with righteous judgment (as Jesus instructed in John 7:24). This kind of strife should be nipped in the bud! We must simply “avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Timothy 2:23).

2. DO NOT SPREAD TALES!
Nothing fans the flames of strife more effectively than gossip. Conversation that is seemingly well meant can provide fuel to a fire that would otherwise die out. When a brother begins a conversation (or e-mail message) by asking, “Do you know what brother so-and-so said about you?” he may mean well, but what follows is usually combustible! “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases” (Proverbs 26:20).

3. LOVE YOUR BROTHER.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” (Proverbs 10:12). It is amazing how easy it is for folks to tolerate the faults of their loved ones, family, longtime friends, etc., while at the same time refusing to tolerate similar or lesser faults in those outside their circle of friends. If we could learn to show love, without prejudice or partiality, we might find a lot less to pick at in others (cf. 1 Timothy 5:21).

4. FORBEAR.
The instructions given in Ephesians 4:1-3 for “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace ” include”forbearing one another in love” (KJV). According to Strong’s Dictionary “forbearing” means to “put up with, bear with, endure, suffer”. Some have the idea that they “don’t have to put up with” anything from a brother in Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if you are being unjustly mistreated, “putting up with it” and taking it patiently is one of the truest marks of a follower of Christ (cf. 1 Peter 2:20-21). Suffering real or imagined injustice from a brother is a sad excuse for causing strife. It’s an excuse Abram would not use, and neither should we. We might learn to be more forbearing if we would stop and realize how much we need others to “put up with” us! “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12).

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