Feeble Knees

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Sowing Strife

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's the act of using Scripture to beat people up. I hate the tendency many of us Christians have to wield our ability to memorize and quote verse for verse like a weapon, as if that somehow makes us superior to everyone else.

This morning I really was hoping to share something uplifting to balance out some of the stuff I've written recently about abusive and deceptive practices in the church. Last night I thought I might write about some of the good things that came out of my church experience, and things that I'm grateful to have learned and come away with.

But while perusing some of my favorite blogs this morning I came upon a comment thread that absolutely sent me through the roof. I would link to it, because I consider this blogger a dear friend and mentor and I'd love to send readers her way, but I don't want to bring any more attention to a dispute that should not be happening. The person involved in stirring up the strife would probably love the attention. I'm not going to oblige.

Some time ago, I'm not sure when exactly, it dawned on me that my love for debate was getting me and a lot of other people into trouble. Jesus dealt with me on it, repeatedly. Mind you there is a big difference between standing up when wrongs have been committed and debating for the sake of argument. When we see misdeeds, abuses, manipulation, or any kinds of wrongs we should seek to set things straight, but prayerfully and with the wisdom, love and FEAR OF GOD. We should be very certain when we endeavor to correct that we have the right motives. Even if someone is wrong - if I go after that person just to prove how RIGHT I am, and not to offer godly correction and a chance for reconciliation, then I am just stirring up strife.

Here's what scripture has to say about stirring up strife:

Proverbs 15:18
A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

Proverbs 16:28
A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

Proverbs 17:19
He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.

Proverbs 20:3
It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

Proverbs 26:17
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

Proverbs 26:21
As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

Proverbs 29:22
An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

Isaiah 58:4
Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

Proverbs 17:14
The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

The world has plenty of strife and wrath. When we engage in the same, how are we any different? Where is the love of God that constrains us? James 1:19 says we are to be "swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath". Verse 20 goes on to say that "the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God".

So, dear gentle readers, consider this the next time your finger is poised precariously above the mouse button, your cursor arrow hovering over the word "Post".

... 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. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? ~ James 3:6-11 (emphasis mine)

It is our tip-tap-typing little fingers and not our tongues that are set on fire in the blogosphere. Our keyboards become the tongue with which we both bless God and curse men who are made in His image!

Some of us blog for the pure joy of writing and speaking our minds. Others love the opportunity to meet and fellowship with brothers and sisters around the globe, in far off places we may never see in our lifetimes. In the process of blogging, we have an opportunity to encourage, comfort, and edify one another. How we treat one another in the blogosphere should be no different than if we were face to face. Here we have a chance to strengthen weak hands and feeble knees and uphold those who stumble. It is certain this is what a loving and merciful Savior would want from us.

Yes there is room for debate and discussion. We must never stop thinking and questioning and proving all things. But let everything be done in the spirit of He who loves us all to the uttermost. Let's not argue just for the sake of arguing, and let us be careful what kind of picture our words paint of us.

Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 15:5

Ya hear that? So be patient and comforting toward one another.

Or I'll whack you. :)

May the great gift and blessing of the spirit and presence of Christ be with all of us always.
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