Putting Strife out of your Home

This week, I want to encourage you to put strife out of your home. Strife is a destructive force that seeks to enter and poison all human relationships. Strife is the seedbed of conflict and it can destroy relationships. Strife includes competition where one is always trying to prove that they are better than another. This proving involves put downs, criticisms, complaining, and a hesitation to forgive. Strife originates from pride and insecurity. A person who works in strife is often referred to as being contentious. This simply means that this person is difficult to get along with and is constantly stirring up fights and arguments. This word also carries the idea of debating and arguing one’s case as a lawyer would do in a court of law. So, a person who is contentious is one who is prone to arguing and debating for long spans of time in order to win their argument, prove their superiority, or simply gain a place of power over someone else. The contentious person is always in an argument with someone.
Strife is a powerful force for evil in the world. Strife can destroy marriages, break apart families, destroy communities, ruin churches, or even tear apart nations. Worst of all, strife can open the door for every kind of wickedness and confusion and prevent us from experiencing God’s blessing in our lives.
Disagreements and even arguments are an inevitable part of family life, but we need to be very careful how we handle these. If we are not careful, strife can set up residence in our homes and create destructive patterns. We need to be careful how we handle our thoughts and emotions.
The Bible is filled with warnings about strife, commands to avoid becoming contentious, and guidance on how to overcome this enemy of all that is good. This week, we will take a quick overview of this important subject.

Growing up, I had some relatives who were contentious. Everyone avoided contact with them as much as possible because they were powder kegs that could blow at any moment and no one knew what might light the fuse. They always insisted on being right and dominating the rest of the family. Their legacy is that they passed on great pain to the next generation.
God has a plan to bless marriages and families with good things, but when strife settles into a home it takes over and hinders the blessing of God from flourishing.
In fact, Proverbs has a lot to say about this. In 17:1, 21:19, and 25:24, we are told that it is better to have a morsel of food in peace than to have feasting in a house full of strife, it is better to live in the wilderness than to live with a contentious and angry woman, and it is better to live on a corner of the roof than to live in a huge house with strife.
The first step in putting strife out of our homes is to decide that I will not be a contentious person. This decision does not mean that I will never be in a disagreement or even an argument over something. It simply means that I will be careful not to allow myself to handle these disagreements in a sinful way that opens the door for strife to gain a foothold in my family.
A contentious person loves strife and arguing. Proverbs 17:19 says, “ He who loves a quarrel loves sin…”. The question is, “Do I love a quarrel?”. Most of us would answer “No”, but let’s think about our life a minute. Does my life story illustrate that I am one who seeks peace rather than arguments or does my life story show something different? A person who loves quarrels is someone who is always looking for an opportunity to say or do something that will get someone riled up. A contentious person would rather spend hours arguing their point than to surrender and find peace. A contentious person values winning an argument or being declared right above peace and harmony. A contentious person uses relationships to make themselves feel powerful and important. A contentious person puts self interest above what’s best for others. A contentious person is reckless with their words. A contentious person is slow to admit they were wrong, compromise, or forgive. Strife undermines everything good in families.
God goes to great lengths to warn us to avoid strife in our lives in order to have lives full of love and peace. This is the legacy He intends for us to pass on to our children and grandchildren. If you are a contentious person who is inviting strife into your family, I hope you will seek God’s forgiveness and abandon this way of life before it’s too late.
In Proverbs 18:6, we read, “A fools’ lips bring him strife…”. Proverbs 18:21says, “ The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Please note that strife is associated with the word fool. So, God is calling anyone who is reckless with their words a fool. He then goes on to say that our reckless words invite strife into our lives. Remember, that the end result of strife is to create destruction. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly attest that this is true. Sadly, I have learned this first hand.
A foolish person will always speak their mind without first thinking things through. A foolish person allows their emotions to sit in the driver’s seat of their tongue. The words of a foolish person stir up strife. A foolish person is reluctant to admit that their words were out of order and insist that their emotions justified their hurtful words.The words of a wise person promote harmony and unity. A foolish person’s words insult, be-little, and wound others. A wise person’s words lift up and encourage others. A foolish person’s words incite others against each other. A wise person’s words call for forgiveness and love.
In Galatians 5:19, we find that words and actions that create strife and fighting are works of the sinful flesh that we should put to death and replace with love and peace. Proverbs 6:19 tells us that one of the 7 things God hates are those who stir up strife between others. The way we relate to others and the words we choose to speak to them can cause life or death. `If we love this truth, then we will be careful what we say to others and this will fill our lives with sweet fruit. If we choose to be reckless in our words, it, too will bring fruit … bitter fruit.
Proverbs 28:25 gives us another glimpse into how to avoid becoming a contentious person who brings strife into our homes, “ He that is of a proud heart stirs up strife”. Bickering, arguing, and reckless words all come from the same place – a heart attitude that I am more important than anyone else. My thoughts are more important. My opinions are more important. My ideas are better. My comfort is more important. My feelings are more important. I will do whatever it takes to occupy the top position in relationships. This attitude opens the door for arguing and fighting to ruin every good thing.
As Christians, we are called to humble ourselves and put the interests of others ahead of our own! When we do this, strife has to leave! We are called to be peacemakers. Being a peacemaker is highly honored in Heaven! A family at peace that lifts each other up is a beautiful thing that shows a glimpse of Heaven on earth.
In Luke 22, we read about Jesus responding to strife among the disciples.They were arguing about which one of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. This was a common argument between them. If you remember, Proverbs 28:25 tells us that a prideful heart incites strife. These men were competing with each other for a place of honor in Heaven. So, let’s think about that for a minute. We don’t know the specifics of their arguing, but we know that it came from an attitude of self promotion and over inflated self importance. We know that this rivalry created animosity and strife between them as each looked for ways to lift up self by putting down the others. We can assume that this arguing involved hurtful, reckless words as each made his case for why he was better than the others. It is easy to see that they were slow to forgive and love each other. Jesus told them that a house or kingdom divided would collapse. Jesus was very disappointed at how slow they were to abandon this way of thinking and obey His words and example.
He told them to choose to serve each other in order to be great in Heaven. The way of the world is to lift self and to exalt self above others. The way of Heaven is to lift others and trust God to take care of self. Jesus calls us to follow Him in humility. When we push self to the forefront we are opening the door to strife. The gateway to peace and harmony is to stop seeing others, especially our mate, as rivals to be defeated and start seeing ourselves as servants who have the ability to lift others up. When we begin to develop this mindset, our carefully chosen words will bless others and fill our homes with life and sweet fruit. Our marriages will be more fulfilling. Our children will develop these good habits and this will set them up for a lifetime of blessing!
We hesitate to take this step because of fear. What if others take advantage of me? What if I go unnoticed and unrewarded? What if someone else gets the credit I deserve? It takes faith to truly believe that God sees all and will watch over us if we live His way. He really has a plan to bless you and your marriage! But, strife is working to find a way in to undermine that blessing and ruin everything. The solution is to volunteer to take on the attitude of Jesus and be a servant who lifts others up!
Life is not a competition. Marriage is not a rivalry. I want to encourage you to evict strife from your home and choose to lift up your mate and children! As we take on the attitude of Christ, He will fill our homes with harmony and blessing!
I thought it might be helpful to offer some suggestions on how to avoid strife:
First of all, develop the habit of putting the needs of others first. Many marriages are stuck in a downward spiral because both partners stubbornly withhold good things from each other insisting that the other must make the first step. To put strife out of your home, volunteer to take the first step – lift up your mate! Do you know of 1 thing you could do that would make your mate smile? Why not give that to them today?
Secondly, learn to be quick to forgive. Strife and holding grudges go hand in hand. When we choose to punish our mate with the cold shoulder, the stink eye, or something like that instead of rushing to forgive, we are opening the door for strife to enter and wreak havoc. There is no need to teach your mate a lesson or make them work to re-enter your good graces. These practices only create a negative cycle in your marriage.
Thirdly, learn to overlook offenses. Too many people seem to go around evaluating everything others say and do looking for an opportunity to be offended. The truth is that we will find what we look for. If you look for fault and something to be offended about, then you will find it. On the other hand, if you look for something to appreciate, admire, and applaud, then you will find that also. So, what do you look for?
Fourth, deal with insecurities and fear. Many people are contentious because of wounds inflicted early in life. When we allow these wounds from the past to cause us to put up walls that keep others at arm’s length, we create negative cycles of strife and hurt that keep repeating for generations until someone stands up to stop the cycle! That someone could be you! Today! These failed family patterns of rivalry, holding grudges, and putting each other down will open the door to increasing pain. The time to stop the cycle is now! Be a Peacemaker – not a Peacebreaker! Peacemakers are called the children of God!
God has a great plan to bless your marriage and family. He has a plan to pass a legacy of joy and wholeness to your descendants for generations to come! Strife and contention has to be evicted in order to experience God’s blessing!
Blaming your mate won’t help. The only one we can control is ourselves. Let’s choose God’s way and trust Him to lead our mate onto the right path!
Before I go, I want to tell you about a devotional study that was created to help strengthen your marriage. I Still Do, A Guide for the Marriage Journey is filled with Biblical principles and practical suggestions. Order yours today at nolareallife.org or at I Still Do on Facebook.

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