WFW: Strife and Pride

A few weeks ago, in Jay's Word For Wednesday, he talked about how strife and debate displease the Lord. If you remember, we were talking about Isaiah 58 and the topic of pride. Jay said,
Proverbs 13:10 says, “By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom.” So, strife and debate comes directly from the heart issue: pride.

This got me thinking, so I looked it up for myself... To continue our study on pride, I wanted to first focus on strife and see where that takes us. It is necessary, then, to look up the the meaning of this word:

strife - or rib {reeb}; from 7378; a contest (personal or legal):--+ adversary, cause, chiding, contend(-tion), controversy, multitude (from the margin), pleading, strife, strive(-ing), suit. Here are some Scriptures which mention strife and debate. Notice how some of them use the literal meanings instead...

Psalm 31:20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

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

Proverbs 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

Luke 22:24-26 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

Luke 9:46-48 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.

Philippians 2: 3-4 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

1 Peter 1: 22-23 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

I found this last Scripture when I was looking at the Scripture references for Philippians 2:3; interestingly, most of those references mention love. The Scriptures tell us that loving one's neighbor as himself is the first commandment; likewise, we learn that loving God is precisely how we love others. And when we love others, we put them first -- we put "me" and what "I" want out of the way and think of others over ourselves. That is true humility. Pride is the exact opposite of God. Why? Because God is love, and the Bible says, "Love is not proud." So, these two Scriptures together state that esteeming one another involves humility, which, in turn, involves love FROM A PURE HEART. We've already touched on the fact that in order to be humble, we must have a pure heart; but 1 Peter further drives home the point that we keep coming back to: the opposite of pride-- humility -- is achieved through the Word of God; that is, we get rid of pride through the Word of God. And if we are to esteem others more highly than ourselves, shouldn't we -- above all -- esteem God as higher than our ego? "Okay, God, you want me to do this, I'm doing it. I don't feel like it, but I will out of obedience to you."

James 3:14-26 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory [exalt against, boast] not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. [Remember what we said before about pride and lying.]

(This next Scripture has the literal meanings in brackets...)

Galatians 5:19-21,26 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance [ a quarrel, i.e. (by implication) wrangling:--contention, debate, strife, variance] , emulations, wrath, strife [faction:--contention(-ious), strife; provoke], seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.... Let us not be desirous of vain glory [self-conceited:--desirous of vain-glory;-dignity, glory(-ious), honour, praise, worship], provoking [ to call forth to oneself (challenge), irritate; to incite by word] one another, envying one another.

Titus 3: 9-11 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

This is exactly what the people in our original passage - Isaiah 58 -- were doing: they were fasting for strife and debates over useless things!

1 Timothy 6:3-8 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Paul was speaking about slaves and masters. However, it is interesting to note that these people were doing the same thing as those in the Isaiah passage: they were thinking that godliness was fasting so that they could get something else done -- so that they could "find pleasure" in doing what they wanted to do; and in the process, they were debating and having strife! But here, Paul says that "godliness with contentment is great gain." If the people had simply been content to spend time with the Lord, they would have gained much; if they had been content to give away what they had to the poor (vs7) and to help the needy, not wanting more -- "let's exploit our laborers" -- they would have gained much. They were making up their own doctrines as those in the above passage were doing -- God never told them to fast for strife and debate, the exploiting of their laborers, and striking with the fist of wickedness. Until they realized that there was a problem -- God was not hearing them -- they were proud in their hearts, doing whatever they wanted and calling it service to God. But when they finally humbled themselves, that was when they heard the voice of the Lord. The Lord not only pointed out their faults because they were truly seeking Him, but He also told them that what He wanted them to do was " to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke." The Scriptures say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light; therefore, we should be setting people free with the Word of God! Interestingly, Timothy speaks of "wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ"; the word "wholesome" here means "health," and here in Isaiah 58:8 the Lord says that if the people will fast His way "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward." His Word is "life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh" (Prov 4:22). Romans 12:16 states, "Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion." That's why I keep harping on the fact that if we think that we have a better way than God, we are prideful; being wise in your own eyes is thinking that your way is the best way -- that we are so much more lofty than all the others. It is interesting that the cross reference for this Scripture is Proverbs 3:7-8 -- "Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones." So we see, once again, that humbling ourselves before God -- submitting to His Word -- is "health to our bones." Also, this Scriptures states that being wise in our own eyes is evil, and it admonishes us to depart from this evil; The Lord told those in Isaiah 58 to fast to "loose the bands of wickedness." The Bibles states, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it" (Isaiah 1:16-20). Here, again, it is clear that the Lord wants us to depart from our evil doings; but even more interesting is the fact that this passage mentions relieving the oppressed, judging the fatherless, and pleading for the widow -- the very things which God also says in Isaiah 58 (vs 6-7): "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" In other words, the Lord wanted them to fast to remove the wickedness from themselves and then to set people free: if people were in need, give them what they need -- food, clothing, shelter, compassion. These were the things that the Lord would find pleasing in His sight, because now the people wouldn't just be fasting to get pleasure for themselves, but to give pleasure to the Lord.

I read this Scripture the other day, and I didn't realize until just today how it goes along with Isaiah 58: Matthew 25:31-40 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"

James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

So this must be very important to God. But what does it have to do with pride? Well, if we do not care about other people, we are looking out for "number one," also known as "me." However, if we care for others in need, we are putting them first and ourselves last. But there is also another reason for this admonition: James 2:14-17 states, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." As I said before, when we love God, we will love our neighbors as ourselves; therefore, our actions will follow our beliefs. If we are prideful, we will be stingy as we look out for "me"; but if we are humble, we love God and care about people -- because that is God's heart: He loves people and wants only good for them.I was reading a fellow bloggers post the other day, and he said something which I think illustrates this point well. In my words, he said that the term "Christian" has gotten such a "bad wrap" these days, that it should be taken out of our vocabulary altogether -- his point was that if we are to truly be Christians, we are to show it by our actions -- by sharing the love of Christ -- not by our "label." That is a good point, and I believe that this is what James meant, too.

1 John 3:17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?


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