by Pastor Tim Burt
I was recently reading from God’s word and was thinking about how much one particular verse changed my life. I was meditating on James 3:16 KJV and its powerful words about strife. Strife is described in James as a launching pad for every tool in the devil’s toolbox. It says, James 3:16 (KJV) “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and EVERY EVIL WORK.”
Strife—usually speaking of those engaged and divided in anger over something, is something we see in the world around us at all times. Every time you turn on the news, someone is blaming someone else for the world’s problems. It all leads to strife. I recently watched a husband and wife go at it, playing the blame game for problems they were experiencing. It’s heartbreaking to see on any level. Deep down, I know people hate strife and don’t want to see it overtake the world—or their world. God’s word tells us that strife is the gate to the devil’s playground. The revelation of that truth from this verse changed my life!
This is a mind-blowing, earth-shaking revelation. Strife creates confusion. Confusion is like being suddenly blinded or at the least, left with the inability to see and think through a situation clearly. Confusion hinders you from being able to think straight. When you’re in strife, your mind seems to get locked on replay—replaying conflicts in your head over and over again. This verse reveals that strife not only creates confusion but it also brings one into the presence of “every evil work.” Think about that! Think about all the types of evil there are and this says “EVERY evil work.” That is where strife leads!
Have you ever watched a video or seen a picture of an atomic bomb going off? It grows like a giant mushroom cloud. That’ reminds me of what strife is like. It leads to replayed thoughts of the conflict you’re in, that grows like a mushroom cloud, creating confusion, and leading to evil thoughts toward the person you are in strife with. It’s shocking how dark thoughts can get when you are in conflict. They can take you right to the edge of the cliff of “every evil work,” and Satan is cheering you on to take action on them!
In the early days of my young marriage with Renee, we would get into strife far too often. We were both young, prideful, and slow to adapt to each other’s needs. We wanted to prove to each other that we knew what we were talking about, and what we were doing. And too often, we would end up in strife. When we did end up in a fight—usually over something pathetically stupid, my thoughts would become angrier and angrier. I had never thought of it as being confused, but God’s word outlines that when we are in strife, confusion is present. I would find myself rehashing the arguments over and over. The more I rehashed them, the bigger and worse the conflict became—like that image of a mushroom cloud growing. It would lead me to thoughts that were out of character and suddenly, 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 my mind to places it was never meant to go to. I’d feel greatly convicted by the Holy Spirit and eventually drop to my knees in repentance to God and in apology to Renee. It wasn’t about who was right or wrong. Letting my mind go to this place was always wrong!
God taught me to take 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. When these evil thoughts come, take them captive. See them as destructive as a wild animal running through your house. You’d stop that from happening and that is what I want you to do with these ungodly thoughts. Cast those thoughts out! Rebuke and kick the devil out of your thought-life in Jesus name 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 James 3:17 NKJ that says, “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.”
Strife is deadly and destructive. If you let it have free rein in your life, it will hurt and destroy elements of your life. It will bring confusion. It will introduce evil thoughts that are outside of your character and outside of how God wants you to think and act. It’s something that Renee and I worked to eliminate from our marriage and personal life. One day the Lord spoke to my heart and said, Take the log out of the fire. Where there’s no wood, the fire goes out. I remembered reading that in Proverbs 26:20-21. The Lord said, It takes two to fight. Refuse to fight. In those times, sit down and listen to her. Then work it out appropriately and humbly. That changed our lives forever! We have a beautiful marriage because of God’s wisdom working in it.
It takes time to learn how to have godly strife-free relationships and eventually thrive in them. Character doesn’t change easily but God calls for us to make the effort. It is absolutely worth the effort and ushers in such great rewards!
Let strife ring the alarm bell that you are going down a dangerous path with a cliff ahead. When that alarm goes off, take the log off the fire. Allow humility to calm you down so that you can work toward the wisdom from Heaven that is pure, peace-loving, gentle and willing to yield to others. Allow humility to help you hear others instead of fighting for your way. Do this instead of launching mindless, hurtful nuclear words born from pride that creates devilish strife. Over time, you will learn and successfully grow in godly communication that bears so much more fruit and avoids creating atmospheres of every evil work. It leads to a beautiful and rich life!
Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT) “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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