“As coals are to burning coals, and wood is to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” Proverbs 26:21 KJV
I awakened sometime during the night last night and the word contentious just jumped right out of my head. It brought to mind my mother, who was famous for saying, “Oh, those contentious people!” when discord erupted. I don’t hear that word used often these days nonetheless, contentiousness is still alive and well. Contentious means being quarrelsome, argumentative, belligerent. Merriam-Webster defines the word as exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes.
Habakkuk (chapter 1 verse 3 KJV) asked God, “Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.” This prophet, in his great debate with God questioned the morally objectionable behavior, the absence of moral or spiritual values and the injustice and contentiousness in practice in Judah. This can certainly parallel the behavior across our country today. We may struggle to understand just as Habakkuk did but it is not ours to understand it all but to believe God is in control and will be our avenger.
Put contentiousness on a more personal level. The failing economy has left many individuals and families in dire straits. Many have lost their homes, bills have piled up, life-styles have been altered; worry, anxiety and fear have replaced the easy-going every day. Contentious spirits ensue. There is a marked dissimilarity between having a difference of opinion and that which manifests a contentious spirit. Contentiousness is negative, mean spirited and filled with pride and arrogance. Contentiousness threatens the very core of any and all relationships.
How wearisome it is to live in an atmosphere of endless controversy, relentless bickering. This is the time to go into your closet and pray, earnestly, for direction. It is easy for us to recognize a contentious spirit in those around us yet we deny we may harbor those same behaviors within. What an ill turn of events when we begin to tear down relationships of those we love. If only we could follow the teachings of the Apostle Paul.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:9-12. NIV
It is a challenge for us to overcome our natural inclinations and reactions to disagreements. What a breeding ground this creates for Satan. Be joyful, patient and faithful said the Apostle. Our lesson here then is to apply this to the daily turmoil we are hurled into. The life we live with a contentious spirit serves Satan. The peaceful life we live is the by-product of the way in which we serve God.
LORD, remove any selfish notions I may harbor in my heart, knowingly or unknowingly. Create in me a true, selfless love for all mankind, friend and foe alike. Mold me LORD into a model of peace, understanding and love. To YOU I give praise and thanksgiving. In JESUS name I pray, Amen.