Divisiveness can be a problem in any type of team or group. But in a church group, particularly, unity is essential to bearing fruit. It is as we are all in one accord that we move ahead, under the Spirit’s direction, to the future that God has for us. God bids us, as much as it is possible, to “live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). When an individual is picking a fight with someone else or setting one part of a group against another, he or she is at fault before God and the body.
Some people seem to have a knack for contributing to a conflict so that strife grows and grows. Maybe it is starting shouting matches with family members. Maybe it is alienating friends by talking about them behind their back. Maybe it is creating divisions in teams and groups. In any case, such people have a problem that calls for more than learning better social behavior; it is really a sin habit we are talking about.
And when dealing with this particular sin habit, it is important to remember that that it is in fact a combination of sins. Certainly, sins of any sort rarely if ever stand on their own. But fighting, in particular, is a sin that tends to company with others of its kind. Sins like anger, bitterness, and envy often erupt into visibility by means of the sin of quarreling. Interpersonal conflict usually occurs because of, and by means of, the words we use. “Harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1). With words, we quarrel, argue, and dispute. With words, we gossip, slander, and smear. With words, we mock and ridicule, taunt and deride. With words, we criticize and judge and curse and condemn. Certainly your authors can look back on times when we wish we could have taken back words we had spoken—but that’s never possible.
We sometimes use our tongue like a weapon, to hurt and to maim others. Even if a part of us realizes that what we are doing is wrong, we cannot seem to stop ourselves. The tongue at such times seems wild, unmanageable.
Unity and harmony are not ours just by choosing them; they are possible only through supernatural enabling. When Christ departed this world, He left behind the Holy Spirit to live in us and work in our hearts. He softens our hearts toward one another and quells our tendency toward conflict. For this reason, Paul could say, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace” (Ephesians 4:3). As we work through the soul-healing process, we should be seeking the virtue of harmony with others to take the place that was once filled by conflict.
The preceding article is an extract from Chapter 16 of Soul Prescription by Bill Bright and Henry Brandt. To purchase the entire book or e-book click here.