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Proverbs 17:14- "The beginning of strife releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts."

When we think of strife, the first thing that comes to mind is argument. Arguments, for all intents and purposes can be stated biblically as quarrels. While strife certainly leads to arguments and includes them, they are more generally the middle work of strife as opposed to the beginning or end of it. To gain a manageable response to the above command, we must gain a clearer perspective on the root of strife.      In the King James original translation of Proverbs 13:10, we are told that there is only one source for strife- pride. However, throughout Proverbs we see manifestations of strife that will lead to contentions, quarrels and destruction.      There are many facets to strife and its path to our lives, some of which will surprise even the mildest of men.  Strife can be stirred up, kindled, sown, and produced.      To stir up strife is to meddle and is done by those who are operating in hatred. Such as Hitler stirring up strife in the hearts of Germans toward the Jews, or a friend stirring up strife in the heart of a wife toward the husband because the friend doesn’t like the husband. This strife stirrer is of a proud heart and believes they are correct about everything. The believe so vehemently in their feelings that they spew their provocations in all possible circumstances. This understanding illuminates the fact that strife can remain a dormant state that requires stirring up and may not always be evident.      Kindling strife is burning with anger and rage. This exhibition of strife is manifested by those who’s nature it is to find fault. These people cannot seem to be satisfied with any one thing for very long. They will find a reason to complain or measure a thing lacking. It is better to avoid a person with this attitude than be around them, even if you are married to them…. especially if you are married to them! This type of striving never ends because the nature of the contentious person is to find fault, therefore their nature must be changed, and their world view must alter, or the strife will be constant throughout life. Where with the stirring up of strife is circumstantial, the kindling of strife is perpetual.      The sowing of strife is the absolute most insidious of the three actions because the sower can plant seeds of strife and then disappear from sight so that those involved are blinded to the root source. In particular, the individuals who sow strife are those of perverse hearts. They are the kind that deliberately lie, defraud, and deceive when it suits their purposes to do so. This type of activity is the most dangerous because these people will transgress at a moment’s notice and know no loyalty beyond their own desires.      In all of the above actions, strife is the resulting production. In all of the above actions, we vainly assume that these are “other people” and that these actions are taken between humans but this is hardly the case. In general, every human alive engages in or has engaged in all three of the actions toward other people and dare I say toward God. We must understand that God has commanded us to cease from strife at all costs and because He has, it would be unfair to us if we were physically unable to do so. The Lord desires greatly to save our lives from destruction and one aspect of that is quashing strife. Why? James 3:16 assures us that where envying and striving are, there is confusion and every evil work. Strife is the most prominent door through which the enemy enters our lives and destroys them. Was not wrath kindled in the heart of Eve when the devil deceived her so that she strove against the command of God and consumed the fruit? Thus it was in the beginning and thus it still is.     With respect to the image painted by our study verse, we must further have knowledge of the general characteristics of water to understand the depth of this command. When water is released, it spreads to any low point in its path, it saturates everything it touches, and it is exceptionally difficult to contain and manage. It is able to cut deep chasms in hard ground and create fissures so great that man cannot pass between them on his own. This is the picture that the Holy One would have for us when we begin to strive about a thing.  To mitigate the amount of strife in one's life is to hedge oneself about in a formidable way, and to achieve that, one must understand strife absolutely so that any hint of striving action can be rousted from the heart of the child of God. 

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