Contention

Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”

We all have a bit of pride in us.

We are proud of our accomplishments. 

We are proud of the life we lead. 

We are pleased for the family and heritage into which we are born. 

We seek affirmation for the work we do. We desire to know that we are on the right path, or the work we do pleases those for whom we serve.

Because each of us is unique and different, we will come across times when we differ with whom we work and those close to us.

How we handle that confrontation matters to God. There are times when a resolution is equitable to both sides. 

But then there are the times when we reach an impasse. I hold to my way and you to yours. We seem unrelenting in our opinions and will not back down. We are justified in our minds that we are right, and all who disagree are wrong.

We have already come to the court of our mind and become judge, jury, and executioner because we have convinced ourselves that we are right.

I have heard many a leader with dictatorial tendencies, deliver a diatribe of orders with no option for comment, interaction, or disagreement with those who follow. Heaven forbid that someone would question us, our judgment, or even disagree to the point of sharp contention.

Sparks fly in relationships for many different reasons. When passions run high and we differ or disagree, we may go head-to-head over an issue we are both passionate. The contention is one of those telltale signs that pride resides within. We quickly see it in others but often fail to see it in ourselves.

Because contention is present, we assume it is the other person’s pride that is responsible.

Contention happens when two person’s pride collide. 

It may be that we are met with disagreement and contention because they reject our work, our idea, or our way. Often, it becomes personal because we feel they are rejecting us. Some will contend with us no matter what we say or do.

Proverbs 22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.”

Scorners are not easily changed. Often, they arrive at this place hardened by sin and rejection. Casting a scorner from our presence allows peace to return. 

Some view our preaching in many different ways. At times, the accusations have merit and need addressing. Other times, we need to identify the root of the contention and start there.

Philippians 1:15-17 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.”

Sin and truth are sharp enough dividers that we need not add to it. It is said:

“There is one truth, but many applications.”

When we preach the application as law or truth, we begin to legalize the gospel by expecting other’s behavior to conform to our version or implementation of truth. When the disciples saw someone who wasn’t like them, they rebuked him. But Jesus was swift to point out:

Luke 9:49-50 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”

Over the years, I have learned that God is varied in how He works and deals with His children. How He deals with me may not be how He handles another.

At times, I think it may be my desire to figure Him out or control the situation, or the people within the situation. In any case, I have found that God works in mysterious ways and does not have to answer to us or explain Himself.

Pride keeps me from seeing such things.

When passions rise, I must beware that they may make irrational decisions and say things I do not mean.

When offended, does our anger rise so quickly that words spoken cannot be easily retrieved?

In reading this simple yet profound truth, I must be on the lookout for any signs of contention within. Then, to confess and repent help me to get back to my soul, being in balance once again.

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