Faith That Works When The Pressure’s On: A Faith that reduces quarreling
In times of stress and uncertainty, it’s not uncommon to find yourself quarreling — having verbal arguments — with the people you love. In this message, we continue our study of the book of James by providing God’s wisdom on reducing the conflict in your life by addressing the conflict going on inside you.
Something To Talk About:
The Bible has a lot to say about the subject of quarreling. There are literally dozens and dozens of examples of quarreling in the Bible. It’s a big deal to God and it should be a big deal to us. Consider the following seven steps when faced with a quarrel on your hands.
- Realize how destructive quarreling is: At least six times in the word of God, God commands us to never quarrel. Ephesians 4:31 (TLB) says this: ”Quarreling, harsh words and dislike of others should have no place in your lives.” No place. Ultimately, quarreling is an attempt to control someone by fighting them with our words. When we quarrel, we’re trying to force another person to agree with us and to make them change by brute force. Quarreling is foolish because it can never win another person’s heart. We may win arguments. We may end up getting our way like bullies sometimes get their way. But quarreling ends up driving others away, causing resentment, and damaging personal relationships. Quarreling can be very destructive.
- Decide I want to change and ask forgiveness: The trouble with quarrels is they typically don’t accomplish much. If I really realize I don’t want to quarrel anymore, I don’t want to argue or fight anymore, then I need to change. I’m just not going to quarrel with people anymore and I ask God for forgiveness for all the times that I participated in a quarrel. James says what we all know, that we never change until we get fed up with the way we’re living or the habit that we’ve been putting up with. Set aside time this week to confess your part in all the quarrels you’ve been in and ask God for forgiveness and ask Him to give you the power to change.
- Stop expecting other people to fulfill the needs in my life that only God could fulfill: One of the great causes of conflict and quarrels, particularly in marriage, is when we expect our spouse to meet needs in our lives that only God can meet. It is unfair and sets up frustration in both people. They’re not God, they cannot possibly meet all your needs. So James says in James 4:2-3: “you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” You’re expecting other people to meet your needs instead of God. Again, God says the reason you have a lot of conflict in your life is you’re expecting other people to meet needs that only you can meet. You’re asking the wrong person. Your spouse, no matter how great they are, cannot possibly fill up your need for self-esteem. Your spouse cannot possibly fill up your need for every other emotional need you’ve got because they’re human too, but we look to the wrong source, we expect a person to meet all our needs instead of God. If we do ask God for help we often pray with the wrong motivation, which leaves us frustrated. He says you know what? Stop quarreling and start praying.
- Choose humility over prideful anger: Pride is behind most conflict. Pride is behind quarreling. Pride always shows up. Proverbs 13:10 says this, real simple, “Pride leads to conflict…” That’s why James makes a big deal and a big emphasis on humility as an antidote, one of the seven antidotes to quarreling. Here’s what he says, James 4:6-7, “And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,“ God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Any time pride rears its head in my life I’m on the opposite side of God, I’m going to lose that battle because my arms are too short to box with God. So if you want God’s help in reducing conflict or anything else in your life it starts with humility. Humility is the antidote to the pride that causes all of those quarrels.
- Recognize the source behind hurtful words: You need to recognize the source behind all conflict. Satan is not seen, but he is real. In Ephesians 4:27 it says this: ” …anger gives a foothold to the devil” Any time you get angry in a quarrel, any time you use hurtful words you are opening the door for Satan to get a foothold in your emotions and in your relationships. He is always ready with an arsenal of what I call WMDs, words of mass destruction, that he wants you to use. That’s why the next thing that James says to do to reduce quarrels is in verse seven: “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. “You need to be aware even before the quarrel starts that Satan has a plan to upset you. He wants you to be stressed, he wants you to be angry, he wants you to be hurt. God certainly doesn’t want any of that.
- Talk to God silently during a quarrel: Talk to God silently while you’re talking to the other person. You can carry on two conversations at the same time, you do this all the time. The days that I begin and end my day with the word of God I’m a whole lot more at peace. I’m a whole lot less irritable. You will be amazed at what a daily quiet time with God will do for you. That’s what this next verse says, James 4:8, “ Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” Even in a quarrel, even in a conflict, even in an argument. This is a wonderful promise. If you draw close to God, He’ll draw close to you. So pause and ask God for wisdom, and ask God for patience, and ask God for help, and ask God to help you hear clearly, and ask God to give you the insight into that other person.
- Invite Jesus to manage my thoughts and words: Colossians 3:15 says this: “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” He’s the prince of peace. Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking because as members of Christ’s body, you are called to live in peace. Imagine yourself sitting there and whoever it is, he or she, is across from you and you’re in a quarrel about it, and then you go, “Now Lord, how would you respond to that? What would you say to that? Tell me what I need to say.” That’s what it means to make Jesus the manager of your thoughts and your words.
- What will help you quarrel less?
- In James 4:1-2, what does James identify as the source of conflict with others?
- God calls the one who quarrels an immature troublemaker. Imagine what that person looks like. How can this mental picture keep you in check when you are tempted to quarrel with others?
- When we quarrel, we always think “I’m right.” Why do you suppose that is so and how can we learn to regard the other person’s feelings/viewpoint as equally important?
- Read 1 Corinthians 3:3 and 1 Timothy 6:4-5. What do they tell us about how and why we quarrel?
- Read James 4:6-10. What hope does James give us about our desperate situation in 4:6?
- How do I decide I want to change and ask forgiveness?
- It’s said that in any given argument between two people, there are three opinions: yours, mine, and the Holy Spirit’s. How can talking to God during a quarrel help us take on the Holy Spirit’s position?
- What did you hear? What point in this message was most impactful for you? What do you think? How did this message challenge, change, or affirm your thinking? What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?
Take one thing home with you:
“So Joseph sent his brothers off, and as they left, he called after them, “Don’t quarrel about all this along the way!” – Genesis 45:24.
In this passage the patriarch Joseph had made himself known to his brothers, to the ones who had betrayed him many years before. He loved and forgave them, and he told them to go back to Canaan and get their father and then to return and “don’t quarrel about all this along the way!’”
That advice should be in the locker room of every sports team, on the doorposts of every home, over the pulpit of every church. As Christians our rule should be: Don’t quarrel along the way.