Striving For Strife
The English word "strife," which is usually defined as a lack of agreement, or a state of conflict, originated from an old Icelandic word, strith, which meant war. The English word "strive," which is defined as "attempt by employing effort," is actually just a later variant spelling of strife.
"Strife" and "strive" are used to translate a single Hebrew word, pronounced reeb, which means to contest, or to wrangle. An example:
"13:7 And there was a strife [i.e. the Hebrew word, pronounced reeb] between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle" (Genesis 13:7 KJV)
"26:20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive [i.e. the Hebrew word, pronounced reeb] with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours" (Genesis 26:20 KJV)
"It is an honour for a man to cease from strife"
It takes two opposing hands to make a clapping noise; it takes two opposing sides for strife. Not all strife can be avoided, but most can - simply by not wasting your precious time responding to someone while they choose to behave in a belligerent manner toward you. Pray for their repentance and healing, but until that has genuinely happened, don't be baited into a strife ambush; don't have any contact with someone who abuses you i.e. "22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease" (Proverbs 22:10 KJV).
"10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins." (Proverbs 10:12 KJV)
"15:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife." (Proverbs 15:18 KJV)
"16:28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer [see The Whisperer] separateth chief friends.
16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good." (Proverbs 16:28-29 KJV)
"17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife." (Proverb's 17:1 KJV)
"17:14 The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with." (Proverb's 17:14 KJV)
"17:19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction." (Proverbs 17:19 KJV)
"20:3 It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling." (Proverbs 20:3 KJV)
"26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. 26:21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife." (Proverbs 26:20-21 KJV)
"30:33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife." (Proverbs 30:33 KJV)
Creating, or needlessly responding to strife (which is itself creating strife), is sinful and anti-Christian. It's evil: "strife ... they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (see Galatians 5:19-21 quoted below).
"3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1 Corinthians 3:3 KJV)
"13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed [see When Will You Be Judged? and Could Christ Return Tonight?]. 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." (Romans 13:10-14 KJV)
"12:20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, Backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 12:21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and Lasciviousness which they have committed." (2 Corinthians 12:20-21 KJV)
"5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 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." (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)
The spirit of strife cannot be permitted to poison God's children; they must instead "in meekness instruct those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."
"2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, Charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2:23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2 Timothy 2:22-25 KJV)
James made the direct, literal-meaning connection between "war" and "strife."
"3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish [see Devils]. 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality [see Face Value], and without hypocrisy. 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." (James 3:13-18 KJV)
"4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 14:1-7 KJV)
Fact Finder: What was the apostle Paul's response to being "goaded"?
See Paul's Thorn
Copyright © Wayne Blank