Step Towards Transformation
Why is that we do not receive? We have learnt so far
Today we will learn about a relationship hindrance of Strife In Our Relationship
KEEPING STRIFE OUT OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS
One of the biggest challenges we all face is getting along with people, because everyone is different; we have different personalities, temperaments, backgrounds.
When somebody doesn’t agree with us or when they do something we don’t like, it’s easy to get in conflict with them: argue, try to straighten them out, prove our point. Before long, we’re at odds, mad at each other, living offended, there’s stress, tension in the home. What’s happened? We’ve allowed strife in.
Strife Is A Spirit Just Like Peace Is A Spirit.
You’ve walked into a place before, you don’t know anybody, you’ve never been there, but you can feel the tension in the room; in the atmosphere there’s stress, discord. Nobody said anything, but you know something is not right; that’s the spirit of strife.
If we would see it as the destructive force that it is, we would be more careful about allowing it in our lives.
After all, it’s easy to argue, especially with those closest to you. Let’s be real; your spouse can get on your nerves. You love the man, you can’t live without him; sometimes, you feel like choking him.
Illustration; a reporter asked billy graham if he had ever thought about divorce. He said divorce no but murder yes.
When we let our guard down, say things that are hurtful, disrespectful, demeaning, that’s not only damaging the relationship, that’s opening the door to strife; that’s inviting that destructive spirit into our life. That’s why the scripture says:
Ephesians 4:27… and do not make room for the devil
Strife can’t just come in when it wants and bring division, disharmony, tear relationships apart; we have to open the door.
I’m not saying that we should never have an argument, never say a wrong word, that’s not reality, but when it becomes a part of who we are, it becomes common, we’re constantly arguing, fighting, being disrespectful, that means we’ve gone way too far. Jesus said:
Mark 3:25 … a home filled with strife and division destroys itself
If you allow the spirit of strife in, it’ll tear apart relationships, your marriage, your family. I’ve seen lifelong friendships destroyed over one disagreement; that’s strife doing what it does best.
But you say, “I wouldn’t get so upset if my coworker wouldn’t be disrespectful to me. I wouldn’t argue if my spouse wouldn’t push my buttons, that’s why we fight all the time”; NO, you have to be the bigger person. Just because somebody is doing wrong, that doesn’t mean you have to engage; That’s the Spirit Of Strife baiting you, saying, “come on, let me in. Argue, fight, be disrespectful.” Don’t take the bait.
If you’re going to keep strife out, you have to get good at walking away when everything in you says to let them have it. There will be times when you know you’re right, the other person is being disrespectful, not telling the tRuth, but for the sake of peace you let it go. Jesus said:
Matthew 5:9 … blessed are the peacemakers
He didn’t say, “blessed are the people who are right.” Sometimes, you have to let the other person think they’re right, even when you know they’re wrong.
We think, “If I’m right, I’m not going to back down; I’m going to prove to them that I’m right, win this battle.” Can I tell you; being right is miscalculated.
What you don’t realize is, it’s damaging your relationships.
Note : First, we can be “peace-fakers.” We can deny that there is conflict or actually run away to avoid dealing with the problem. Second, we can be “peace-breakers.” These are people who are more interested in winning the argument than saving a friendship. They can be rude, physically abusive, and even violent. These people seem to thrive on conflict and will create problems, even in the midst of peace. Jesus calls us to be “peace-makers,” proactively seeking peace in order to preserve unity:
If you’ll let God do it his way, he’ll change what needs to be changed. God is the potter; we can’t change people, only God can. These are tests that we must pass.
That person God put in your life is not just there for companionship; there is a spiritual force released when you live in peace and harmony.
Illustration: When Ruth and I first got married, like all couples we had to work through some things. The scripture says:
Mark 10:8 … and the two shall become one
You don’t become overnight. It takes some time. Ten years later I’m still training her, I mean she’s still training me but we made a decision early on in our relationship that we were going to keep strife out of our home. It didn’t happen automatically. We’re two different people having two different ways of doing things. We had to grow together make allowances, overlook some things. Had we not stayed on the offensive and work to keep strife out, not only would we not still be together but we wouldn’t be where we are.
Psalm 133:1, 3b ….1 behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!… 3 … for there the lord commanded the blessing
That’s when you’ll accomplish things that you could not accomplish on your own. If we realized what we were giving up by allowing all these petty things to tear us apart, strife, discord, being at odds with each other, if we really saw how that was holding us back, we would work overtime to keep peace in our life.
God has big things in your future, but it’s going take more than just your faith; you’re going to need the 10x power that comes from having unity in your home. Think about what your children can accomplish when you are in agreement with your spouse; 10× the influence, creativity, power. This is one of the things that holds us back; it’s not our lack of talent, education, the background we come from, it’s the fact that we’re operating on 1/10 the power.
What would happen if you would draw the line in the sand, and say, “that’s it; from this day forward, I’m keeping strife out of my life. No more arguing, petty fights, saying disrespectful things; I’m staying on the high road. I’m not allowing division, discord, tension in my home. I’m going to be a peacemaker.”
When you do that, God will release the 10x power; favor, increase, blessing like you’ve never seen.
Well Melwyn, “if I don’t stand up for myself and tell people what I think, that’s going to make me look weak”. It’s just the opposite. When you go the extra mile to keep strife out of your home, that’s not being weak; that’s a sign of strength. The most mature person is the one who walks away from the argument. The most mature person is not always the one that’s right; it’s the one that keeps the peace.
You know what arguing and having to be right really boils down to? PRIDE;
Pride says “I’m not going to let them get the best of me.” You have to put your ego down, and say, “I’d rather have peace in my life. I would rather have the 10x blessing than just be right.”
God doesn’t answer prayer if there is rebellion which means no submission. God calls you to do something and you refuse to go.
1 Samuel 15:23 …For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
Let us think on these two things that the prophet said rebellion and stubbornness. Do we have those things in our lives? If we have either of those things we could be hindering our prayers, because God hates those two things in his children’s lives
In Romans 13:1, God said“ let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
We all have someone or something that holds a measure of authority in our lives. There are parents, spouse, employers and the law of the land, lender and government, just to name a few. Each requires your willingness and cooperation in compliance with the rules.
What happens when you and I rebel against this authority by choosing to disobey?
Romans 13:2, God said “consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Illustration: This Lady I know had been praying to have a healing for many years with no success. The lady was praying, believing, taking medical treatments doing everything she could but still not well. One day the lady was going home from one church service. She was very discouraged. She said under her breath, “God it’s not fair. I’m over here doing what you’ve asked me to do. Why won’t you heal me. God I don’t understand why I can’t have a good health.” God said something back to her not out loud but in her spirit she heard, “daughter you’re not going to have healing until you start treating your husband better. She was a good woman. She loved the lord. When you see her out in public she seemed as happy as can be but deep down she knew whe wasn’t treating her husband the way she should be. It wasn’t anything big just little things by not submitting. She had become disrespectful and rebellious saying things she shouldn’t say. She was argumentative. When her husband used to overlook things and let it but she’d keep it stirred up. She had become hard to get along with. She was unfriendly and stubborn not putting any effort into the relationship. The good news is now she was willing to change. She took it to heart. She made the adjustments. A couple of months later she was completely healed. She never felt sick thereafter.
May be like my friend, you know maybe you know you’re not being your best in your behaviour; you drifted down the wrong path.
God is not here to condemn us, to make us feel bad about ourselves, but he will convict us and challenge us to come up higher. Condemnation pushes us down; conviction is there to push us up. But we have to say, “I’m willing to change. I can make some adjustments.”
Don’t ask how God can change somebody else, look inside, and say, “God, how can I change? How can I get along better with people?
Ephesians 5:24 “now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything”
Prayers are unanswered because of the lack of submission in married couples. The verse tells us that a wife should submit to her husband just as the church submits to Christ. Submission of the church of Christ allows it to receive blessings from God the father. The church cannot ask God the father to bless it if it’s not submitted to the established authority i.e Christ. Likewise, if a wife does not obey her husband, she should expect an obstacle for certain blessings (from God) that were supposed to reach her through her husband.
Hebrews 13: 16 “but do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”
Prayer is like food and if food needs salt before being eaten, prayer also needs to be pleasing to God. The salt of prayer is everything we often forget while God needs them in our prayers.
If prayers are not answered, the fault is not of God but of our own camp because they lack salt. Sometimes we fervently pray and fast, but instead of having the solution to our problems, the situation is only getting worse. Hebrews 13: 16 begins with “remember” or “not to forget” to do good and to share as it is with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Illustration: Jesus was the perfect example to follow in all areas. Although he was the son of God and that he had never sinned, he spent most of his time in prayer to commune with his father and draw more spiritual strength. I just wanted to clarify that his prayers were not only answered because of his righteousness but also because of his good deeds for the bible says that he went about doing good (Acts 10: 38).
Prayer is fundamental to approach God but it’s by doing good that we attract God’s attention
Note: if you are a wife and you spend forty days in fasting for the conversion of your husband but yet you don’t respect him, i’m afraid that you may wait for a long time because your prayers lack salt (submission).
The letter is not only addressed to wives because in the same chapter husbands are also mentioned in Ephesians 5:25
Ephesians 5:25 husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her,.
The same verse insists that the husband shouldn’t just love his wife but he should be ready to give himself up for her.
Note: If you are a husband and you don’t do any sacrifice for your wife, you spend days in fasting and in prayer in order to ask God to bow her so that she could be submissive, you may wait for a long time simply because you miss salt (love in action). The bible says that your behavior toward your wife can block some prayers.
1 Peter 3: 7..says.. Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Note: Writing to the wives who have unbelievers husbands, peter advises them to be submissive because some can win their husbands just because of their behavior without preaching them
1 Peter 3:1…wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,
Here the point is not about knowing who is bigger than the other but it’s all about respecting the order established by God himself.
Illustration: There is an old story that illustrates the principle of honor within marriage. A drunkard husband, spending the evening with his jovial companions at a bar, boasted that if he took a group of his friends home with him at midnight and asked his Christian wife to get up and cook supper for them, she would do it without complaint. The crowd considered it a vain boast and dared him to try it. So the drunken crowd followed him home, and he made the unreasonable demands of his wife. She obeyed, dressed, came down, and prepared a very nice supper and served it as cheerfully as if she had been expecting them. After supper one of the men asked her how she could be so kind when they had been so unreasonable and when she did not approve of their conduct. Her reply was: “Sir, when my husband and I were married, we were both sinners. It has pleased God to call me out of that dangerous condition. My husband continues in it. I tremble for his future state. Were he to die as he is, he would be miserable forever. I think it my duty to render his present existence as comfortable as possible.” Not long after, her husband was saved.
If God asks to the wives to be submissive, it’s also for their good because their submission is supposed to produce their husband’s love.
What we’re modelling in our homes is the way our children are going to treat people they get in relationships with.
That means not saying everything you feel like saying, not pushing the buttons, not allowing the spirit of strife in your home. If you don’t do it for yourself, at least do for your children; do it to make it easier on those that come after you.
A lot of times, we think, “I’ll change when they change. When he starts treating me better, then I’ll be nice to him. When she stops nagging me, Then I’ll be friendly again.” NO, the bigger person is the one that makes the first move. God will reward you in a greater way if you’ll take the first step.
It says that because Solomon praised his wife, their children rose up and blessed her as well.
Proverbs 31:28 …28 her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Fathers be involved in your children’s life. Bring them to church. Know who their friends are. Deep down that child knows that he’s loved. That’s what gives him value.
Illustration: A friend of mine told me when he was a teenager that he had a drug problem. He is so clean cut that I couldn’t believe he was on drugs. He said yeah I was drugged to church every weekend. I was drugged to Sunday School. I was drugged in the youth class. He said you know Melwyn those drugs are still in my veins. They still affect everything that I do. He was saying my parents poured into me. They watched over me.
Illustration: I heard a story about a lady that had lived a very immoral life. One man after another. She couldn’t stay in a stable relationship. A minister asked her what went wrong and where did you lose your way. She told how when she was 17 years old, she walked into her family room wearing her brand-new prom dress, feeling so special. Her father was sitting in a chair reading the newspaper. She said, “dad what do you think of this new dress?” She began to spin around and around dancing, feeling so special, so beautiful, so proud but her father never looked up from reading the newspaper. Her dance slowed down a little more, a little more until she realized her dad wasn’t interested. She walked out of the room because she didn’t feel valued and approved by her father. She went through man after man trying to get that approval that only her father could give.
Father’s we have something extremely powerful. Your children need your blessing. Make them a priority. It’s not an option. It’s a responsibility you have something to give as a father that nobody else can give.
Pride will tell you, “don’t do it, they don’t deserve it. I’m not going to treat them right when they’re treating me wrong.”
Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride only breeds quarrels.”
Pride keeps us from admitting that we are wrong and that somebody else just may be right! Pride makes us think we know everything — that you can’t learn anything from your mate or your child. Pride makes you unable to see the strengths in others.
God brought the people in your life on purpose. It’s not an accident; it’s a part of his divine plan. No person is perfect; we all have flaws and weaknesses. If you blow that person off because of their issues, the problem is, the next person you get in a relationship with will have some kind of issues as well, something to get on your nerves.
You have to learn this principle; to rise above it, and keep strife out of your home.
You can be the difference-maker; when you honor your spouse, treat them with respect even when they don’t deserve it, that’s what causes them to come up higher., Not arguing, being disrespectful, pushing them down.
Illustration: It’s like you’re pouring water into a jar with a small cork in it; the more water you pour, the higher that cork will rise. Your spouse is the cork; your honor is the water. The more honor you pour in, the higher your spouse will rise.
Matthew 12:25 … “every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
When we allow strife in our life, something is happening, we’re continually going down: our relationships, dreams, attitudes, energy.
Where There’s Unity, God’s Blessing, Favor, Anointing Is On Your Life, Marriage, Career, Finances.
There is power in agreement, when you rise up and say, “I’m going to do everything I can to keep unity in my home. My spouse may be argumentative, my children may be hard to get along with, but as for me, I’m going to be a peacemaker.”
One Peacemaker Is More Powerful Than A Dozen Troublemakers.
The peace you bring will have such an anointing on it, it will break the forces that are trying to tear your family apart.
Illustration: In 2014 I was kind of irritated on something Ruth had done. It was no big deal. Just a small thing but I chose to hold onto it, magnify it and let it sour me. You know how sometimes it feels good to be not responding to the other person and I knew it wasn’t right but the flesh loves to have its way. I remember thinking “I’m not in a good mood. You aggravated me. I’m miserable. I’m going to make your life miserable.”. I was giving Ruth the cold shoulder treatment not friendly, not talkative. Just matter of fact she said how are you today. Is something wrong? I said, “nothing’s wrong” she said, “if not then, why are you so unfriendly?” I replied rudely, “ I’m not being unfriendly” I was just being hard to get along with. Now don’t look at me like I’m the only one that’s ever done this. We’ll let you confess your sins next. You know what I was doing. Opening the door to trouble. I was inviting that destructive strife into our life
James 3:16 … for where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work
After a couple of hours, I was out riding on this Shil-Kalyan Road, with the tension so thick that you could cut it with a knife. While I was on this wide road, about a hundred feet back of me there was this biker coming toward me full speed. This bike came right into my path by overtaking. We had this huge collision. I went flying off and then tumbling over in the rough sided road.
I thought for sure I had broken arms and broken legs. My pant tore up. But thankfully all I had were bruises. While I was was walking back to my bike, I felt this impression in here saying, “Melwyn, you opened the door to this trouble. It could have been avoided if you would have kept the strife out.”
When we allow strife in, it opens the door to unnecessary trouble; there will be conflicts, disappointments, setbacks, that we didn’t have to encounter.
Sadly, even though we all want a positive harvest in our marriage, we typically respond in ways that are counter to that because of strife.
Illustration: A wife wants her husband to spend more time with her, but in order to get that, she criticizes him. The fruit she desires is opposite of the seed she is sowing. The seed of criticism will only produce a negative fruit in her husband. Similarly, a husband, who wants intimacy with his wife, actually begins to withdraw from her. He withdraws hoping that this will draw her closer, but it actually does the opposite. The negative seed of withdrawing cannot produce the positive fruit of intimacy.
Don’t be stubborn like I was; we have enough battles to fight in life where we don’t have a choice, don’t make it harder on yourself by opening the door to trouble.
Matthew 5:9… “blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace
We know what it means to make peace: we make up after an argument, apologize, forgive, move forward, that’s important. But we need to be more aware about maintaining our peace; that means you stay on the high road, bite your tongue, let things go, don’t argue.
It’s Much Easier To Maintain Your Peace Than To Have To Always Try To Make Peace. There’s not another person alive that you’re in relationship with that at some point will not irritate you, offend you, hurt you, or get on your nerves.
Instead of being upset every time things don’t go your way, being argumentative, giving them the cold shoulder, why don’t you try this new approach, and start maintaining your peace? Don’t open the door to strife. When you go the extra mile to keep unity in your home, you’ll not only have God’s blessing and favor because of the power of agreement, but you will have his protection; he’ll keep you from unnecessary trouble. This can save a marriage today, save a relationship. It’s not always big things, sometimes it’s a small thing. If you’ll make these minor adjustments, they can make major improvements.
Proverbs 20:3 … avoiding a fight is a mark of honor
Sometimes, we think winning a fight is a mark of honor; we come back after an argument, give ourselves a high-five, and think, “I let them have it. I showed her who was boss.”
That’s not really winning. You fed your ego, made yourself feel good, but didn’t strengthen the relationship. You may have won in one sense, but what did it cost you, how much damage was done?
When we say hurtful words, when we’re disrespectful, that’s a very heavy price. The way to really win is to avoid it, to stay on the high road, to walk away; that’s a mark of honor. This takes humility. Pride will tell you, “have the last word, stay at it, let them have it.” That verse goes on to say:
Proverbs 20:3 … only fools love to quarrel
Instead of thinking about how you can win the argument, strategizing what you’re going to say, spend that same time thinking about how you’re going to avoid the argument.
I’m not saying to not address issues, but there’s a right way and a right time. You should do it calmly, express your concerns, and then leave it there. If it starts to get heated, disrespectful, that’s the time to walk away. If you’ll do it God’s way, he’ll fight your battles, change what needs to be changed. Plus, we need to ask ourselves, “what am i arguing over? Is it worth it?” Sometimes, we argue over petty things that in the big picture don’t really matter.
Illustration: There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say ‘i’m sorry’, the wound is still there.”
While we may not see the wounds from an argument, we can lose something more valuable, the people God has put in our lives: your spouse, children, parents, friends. It’s easy to get at odds, let little things build up, say hurtful things here, argue there, be disrespectful; one day you look up, and they’re not there anymore.
Don’t take the people in your life for granted.
Life is too short to live that way. Where there’s disharmony, you’re weakened; you won’t reach your highest potential. I’m asking you today to be a maker and a maintainer of peace.
Illustration: There was once a couple who had been married for 60 years. Throughout their life they had shared everything. They loved each other deeply. They had not kept any secrets from one another, except for a small shoebox that the wife kept in the top shelf of her closet. When they got married, she put the box there and asked her husband never to look inside of it and never to ask questions about its contents. For 60 years the man honored his wife’s request. In fact, he forgot about the box until a day when his wife grew gravely ill, and the doctors were sure she had no way of recovering. So the man, putting his wife’s affairs into order, remembered that box in the top of her closet, got it down, and brought it to her at the hospital. He asked her if perhaps now they might be able to open it. She agreed. They opened the box, and inside were two crocheted dolls and a roll of money that totalled $95,000. The man was astonished.
The woman told her husband that the day before they were married, her grandmother told her that if she and her husband were ever to get into an argument with one another, they should work hard to reconcile, and if they were unable to reconcile, she should simply keep her mouth shut and crochet a doll. The man was touched by this, because there were only two crocheted dolls in the box. He was amazed that over 60 years of marriage, they apparently had had only two conversations that they were unable to reconcile. Tears came to his eyes, and he grew even more deeply in love with this woman. Then he asked about the roll of money. “What’s with this?” he asked. His wife said, “Well, every time I crocheted a doll, I sold it to a local craft fair for five dollars.”
Do what you can to keep the atmosphere in your home loving, friendly, kind. Be a person of honor, and avoid the fight.
If you’ll keep strife out, because there’s unity in your home, you’re going to see that blessing. God is going to increase you with more wisdom, more favor. You will accomplish dreams and reach the fullness of your destiny.