James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.”
I remember as a young boy seeing old black and white video footage of the Atom bomb being dropped on the city of Hiroshima. As the bomb was detonated, it grew quickly into this giant mushroom cloud that just seemed to build and build, getting wider and taller. That image is forever etched in my mind. I’ll get back to this in a minute.
Prior to becoming a Christian, I never formed any real boundaries for conducting and maintaining relationships. I know I perceived myself as a fairly nice guy. I hated relational conflict as much as the next person. But if someone made me mad, I’m sure I responded too often with inappropriate words or actions creating a mess to clean up. We all know that you can’t always fix or clean up every relational mess you create. As I look back now, I know I left a trail of fractured relationships.
When I became a Christian, I went from having zero relational boundaries and guidelines to having developed a great core of them. The way I governed relationships in my life completely changed. God’s Word began to enrich my thinking and my heart with nuggets of revelation and wisdom concerning love, forgiveness, communication, boundaries and more relating to the conduct of relationships. The scriptures spoke loudly to me but there was a particular verse that sent chills through me. It was James 3:16 “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” I remember hearing someone preach on this verse and I knew God was speaking directly to me through it. At first the words “where there is envying…” didn’t mean much to me. I didn’t think of myself as envious. But the Lord pointed out to me that through pride people often envy to be right about what they believe or say. That envy or pride to be right will cause division and lead to strife. As I thought about it, I knew I was as guilty of that quality as anyone. Of course I wanted to be right. Of course it leads to arguments and strife. The funny thing was, the one time I absolutely did shut my mouth and didn’t debate, argue, or fight for what I believed was when the person that led me to the Lord took me through the scriptures and showed me God’s love and the way to Heaven. It was supernatural. I absolutely laid down every guard. I knew I was wrong and she was right. I laid down the envy and pride of wanting to be right and ended up with the gift of salvation. Laying down the pride of having to be right can bring rewards of great blessing!
While the word envying at first did not grab me, the word “strife” did. “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Strife – usually speaking of those that are divided in anger over something, was a reoccurring theme for me. I knew God was trying to speak to me and help me through this verse. Again the verse said, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” To me, this was mind-blowing, earth shaking revelation. Strife created confusion. Confusion is a lot like being suddenly blinded or at the least, left with the inability to see clearly. You just can’t seem to think straight. Your mind seems to be locked on replay – replaying your conflicts over and over again. It can become tormenting in a short amount of time. This verse reveals that strife not only creates confusion but it also brings one into the presence of “every evil work.” I don’t know if you have ever been so mad that your mind began to go down rabbit trails of really bad thoughts, but mine did. As a matter of fact, that was the reason I started out mentioning the image of the atom bomb growing like a mushroom cloud.
In the early days of my marriage with Renee, we would get into strife too often. We were young and prideful, overly confident, and wanting to prove to each other that we knew what we were talking about and we knew what we were doing. At times like this we’d end up in strife. When we did end up in a fight – usually over something stupid, my thoughts would become angrier and angrier (confused) and I would find myself rehashing things in my mind. The more I rehashed them, the bigger and worse the conflict seemed – like that image of a mushroom cloud growing. It would lead me to thoughts that were out of character and I’d think, how could I be thinking like this? The answer to that was in the scripture – James 3:16. “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Strife unbridled would lead me to thoughts of every evil work. I would feel greatly convicted by God’s Holy Spirit. This was scary to me and drove me to my knees in repentance to God and in apology to Renee.
God taught me to take and make a stand at times like this. He’d say, “Tim, your mind is not the devil’s playground. I have given it to you to think on things that are from my heart – thoughts that are good and pure and righteous. Rebuke and kick the devil out in Jesus name right now!” Then He’d say, “Are you always right or do you just want to be?” I’d feel humbled hearing Him ask that because I knew the answer was obvious. Then He’d remind me of today’s Fresh Manna verse, “But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.” It takes time to learn how to have godly relationships and to thrive in them. Having the wisdom and boundary of measuring my thoughts to the tune of peace loving, gentle, and restraining myself instead of launching mindless, hurtful nuclear words born from pride helps immensely. Over time, we really learned and love to speak kind to each other. It’s has caused our love for each other to grow so much stronger. Imagine that!
I’ll share more with you about that next week…
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2008 Tim Burt, All rights reserved