from JO’s sermon tonight:
one of the biggest challenges we all face is getting along with people, because everyone is different; we have different personalities, temperaments, backgrounds. when somebody doesn’t agree with us, they do something we don’t like, it’s easy to get in conflict with them: argue, try to straighten them out, prove our point. before long, we’re at odds, mad at each other, living offended, there’s stress, tension in the home. what’s happened? we’ve allowed strife in. strife is a spirit just like peace is a spirit. you’ve walked into a place before, you don’t know anybody, you’ve never been there, but you can feel the tension in the room; in the atmosphere there’s stress, discord. nobody said anything, but you know something is not right; that’s the spirit of strife. if we would see it as the destructive force that it is, we would be more careful about allowing it in our lives. after all, it’s easy to argue, especially with those closest to you. let’s be real; your spouse can get on your nerves. you love the man, you can’t live without him; sometimes, you feel like choking him. when we let our guard down, say things that are hurtful, disrespectful, demeaning, that’s not only damaging the relationship, that’s opening the door to strife; that’s inviting that destructive spirit into our life. that’s why the scripture says:
Ephesians 4:27 (NRSV)
27 and do not make room for the devil
strife can’t just come in when wants, bring division, disharmony, tear relationships apart; we have to open the door. I’m not saying that we should never have an argument, never say a wrong word, that’s not reality, but when it becomes a part of who we are, it becomes common, we’re constantly arguing, fighting, being disrespectful, that means we’ve gone way too far. Jesus said:
Mark 3:25 (TLB)
25 A home filled with strife and division destroys itself
if you allow the spirit of strife in, it’ll tear apart relationships, your marriage, your family. I’ve seen lifelong friendships destroyed over one disagreement; that’s strife doing what it does best. “I wouldn’t get so upset if my coworker wouldn’t be disrespectful to me. I wouldn’t argue if my spouse wouldn’t push my buttons, that’s why we fight all the time”; no, you have to be the bigger person. just because somebody is doing wrong, that doesn’t mean you have to engage; that’s the spirit of strife baiting you, saying, “come on, let me in. argue, fight, be disrespectful.” don’t take the bait. it takes a mature person to overlook an offense, and say, “no, I’m not taking that bait, I’m staying in peace.” it takes maturity to apologize even when it wasn’t your fault. if you’re going to keep strife out, you have to get good at walking away when everything in you says to let them have it. there will be times when you know you’re right, the other person is being disrespectful, not telling the truth, but for the sake of peace you let it go. Jesus said:
Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
9 Blessed are the peacemakers
he didn’t say, “blessed are the people who are right.” sometimes, you have to let the other person think they’re right, even when you know they’re wrong. we think, “if I’m right, I’m not going to back down; I’m going to prove to them that I’m right, win this battle.” can I tell you; being right is overrated. you can be right and be miserable. you can be right and sleep on the couch. you can be right your whole life and have nobody at your funeral. you can prove your point, always win the battle; what you don’t realize is, it’s damaging your relationships. if you’ll let God do it His way, He’ll change what needs to be changed. God is the potter; we can’t change people, only God can. these are tests that we must pass. will you stay on the high road and bite your tongue, even when you feel like telling somebody off? will you put your ego down, and let somebody else be right, even when you know they’re wrong?
when you’re in unity, the favor on your life is increased. you are 10 times more powerful when you’re in agreement; this means you have 10 times the strength to withstand attacks, overcome obstacles. you can accomplish dreams 10 times bigger, more rewarding. you will go so much further if you will keep unity in your home. some of the obstacles you can’t seem to overcome, the doors that are not opening, it may be because you’re operating with the strength of one; there is strife and division. you need the 10x power to reach the fullness of your destiny. that person God put in your life is not just there for companionship; there is a spiritual force released when you live in peace and harmony. the scripture says:
Mark 10:8 (NABRE)
8 and the two shall become one
you don’t become one overnight; it takes some time.
Psalm 133 (NKJV)
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!… 3 … For there the Lord commanded the blessing
that’s when you’ll accomplish things that you could not accomplish on your own. if we realized what we were giving up by allowing all these petty things to tear us apart, strife, discord, being at odds with each other, if we really saw how that was holding us back, we would work overtime to keep peace in our life. God has big things in your future, but it’s going take more than just your faith; you’re going to need the 10x power that comes from having unity in your home. think about what your children can accomplish when you are in agreement with your spouse; 10× the influence, creativity, power. this is one of the things that holds us back; it’s not our lack of talent, education, the background we come from, it’s the fact that we’re operating on 1/10 the power.
what would happen if you would draw the line in the sand, and say, “that’s it; from this day forward, I’m keeping strife out of my life. no more arguing, petty fights, saying disrespectful things; I’m staying on the high road. I’m not allowing division, discord, tension in my home. I’m going to be a peacemaker.” when you do that, God will release the 10x power; favor, increase, blessing like you’ve never seen. “if I don’t stand up for myself, tell people what I think, that’s going to make me look weak”; it’s just the opposite. when you go the extra mile to keep strife out of your home, that’s not being weak; that’s a sign of strength. the most mature person is the one who walks away from the argument. the most mature person is not always the one that’s right; it’s the one that keeps the peace.
you know what arguing and having to be right really boils down to? pride; “I’m not going to let them get the best of me.” you have to put your ego down, and say, “I’d rather have peace in my life. I would rather have the 10x blessing than just be right.” maybe you know you’re not being your best in your behavior; you drifted down the wrong path. God is not here to condemn us, to make us feel bad about ourselves, but He will convict us and challenge us to come up higher. condemnation pushes us down; conviction is there to push us up. but we have to say, “I’m willing to change. I can make some adjustments.” God has the right people here; don’t ask how God can change somebody else, look inside, and say, “God, how can I change? how can I get along better with people? God, what am I doing that’s keeping my spouse and I from that 10x blessing? what am I doing that’s going to make it harder on my children, passing down things that are going to hold them back?”
what we’re modeling in our homes is the way our children are going to treat people they get in relationships with. mothers, if you want your son to have a healthy, loving relationship with his wife, then you have to sow a seed by treating your husband in a loving, healthy way. fathers, if you want your daughter to be treated with respect and honor like the queen she is, make sure you’re treating your wife like the queen that she is, with respect and honor. that means not saying everything you feel like saying, not pushing the buttons, not allowing the spirit of strife in your home. if you don’t do it for yourself, at least do for your children; do it to make it easier on those that come after you. a lot of times, we think, “I’ll change when they change. when he starts treating me better, then I’ll be nice to him. when she stops nagging me, then I’ll be friendly again.” no, the bigger person is the one that makes the first move. God will reward you in a greater way if you’ll take the first step.
pride will tell you, “don’t do it, they don’t deserve it. I’m not going to treat them right when they’re treating me wrong.” you’re not just doing it for them, you’re doing it unto God. you’re not saying, “I approve your behavior. it’s ok to treat me this way.” you’re saying, “God, I know the importance of keeping strife out of my life. even though I don’t like this, I’m going to stay on the high road and be a peacemaker, knowing that You will make it up to me.” but human nature says to treat people the way they treat us; “you want to be disrespectful, 2 people can play that game. you want to be argumentative, unfriendly, sarcastic, you’ve met your match, let’s go.” all that’s going to do is make matters worse.
God brought the people in your life on purpose. it’s not an accident; it’s a part of His divine plan. no person is perfect; we all have flaws and weaknesses. if you blow that person off because of their issues, the problem is, the next person you get in a relationship with will have some kind of issues as well, something to get on your nerves. you have to learn this principle; to rise above it, and keep strife out of your home. you can be the difference-maker; when you honor your spouse, treat them with respect even when they don’t deserve it, that’s what causes them to come up higher, not arguing, being disrespectful, pushing them down. it’s like you’re pouring water into a jar with a small cork in it; the more water you pour, the higher that cork will rise. your spouse is the cork; your honor is the water. the more honor you pour in, the higher your spouse will rise.
Matthew 12:25 (HCSB)
25 “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
when we allow strife in our life, something is happening, we’re continually going down: our relationships, dreams, attitudes, energy. you’ll make better decisions if you’ll get rid of the discord. you’ll be more creative, productive, successful, if you’ll take these steps to keep peace in your home. where there’s unity, God’s blessing, favor, anointing is on your life, marriage, career, finances. there is power in agreement, when you rise up and say, “I’m going to do everything I can to keep unity in my home. my spouse may be argumentative, my children may be hard to get along with, but as for me, I’m going to be a peacemaker.” one peacemaker is more powerful than a dozen troublemakers. the peace you bring will have such an anointing on it, it will break the forces that are trying to tear your family apart.
James 3:16 (MEV)
16 For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work
when we allow strife in, it opens the door to unnecessary trouble; there will be conflicts, disappointments, setbacks, that we didn’t have to encounter. don’t be stubborn; we have enough battles to fight in life where we don’t have a choice, don’t make it harder on yourself by opening the door to trouble.
Matthew 5:9 (AMP)
9 “Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace
we know what it means to make peace: we make up after an argument, apologize, forgive, move forward, that’s important. but we need to be more aware about maintaining our peace; that means you stay on the high road, bite your tongue, let things go, don’t argue. it’s much easier to maintain your peace than to have to always try to make peace. there’s not another person alive that you’re in relationship with that at some point will not irritate you, offend you, hurt you, or get on your nerves. instead of being upset every time things don’t go your way, being argumentative, giving them the cold shoulder, why don’t you try this new approach, and start maintaining your peace? don’t open the door to strife. when you go the extra mile to keep unity in your home, you’ll not only have God’s blessing and favor because of the power of agreement, but you will have His protection; He’ll keep you from unnecessary trouble. this can save a marriage today, save a relationship. it’s not always big things, sometimes it’s a small thing. if you’ll make these minor adjustments, they can make major improvements.
Proverbs 20:3 (NLT)
3 Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor
sometimes, we think winning a fight is a mark of honor; we come back after an argument, give ourselves a high-five, and think, “I let them have it. I showed her who was boss.” that’s not really winning. you fed your ego, made yourself feel good, but didn’t strengthen the relationship. you may have won in one sense, but what did it cost you, how much damage was done? when we say hurtful words, when we’re disrespectful, that’s a very heavy price. the way to really win is to avoid it, to stay on the high road, to walk away; that’s a mark of honor. this takes humility. pride will tell you, “have the last word, stay at it, let them have it.” that verse goes on to say:
Proverbs 20:3 (CEV)
3 … only fools love to quarrel
instead of thinking about how you can win the argument, strategizing what you’re going to say, spend that same time thinking about how you’re going to avoid the argument. I’m not saying to not address issues, but there’s a right way and a right time. you should do it calmly, express your concerns, and then leave it there. if it starts to get heated, disrespectful, that’s the time to walk away. if you’ll do it God’s way, He’ll fight your battles, change what needs to be changed. plus, we need to ask ourselves, “what am I arguing over? is it worth it?” sometimes, we argue over petty things that in the big picture don’t really matter.
while we may not lose millions from an argument, we can lose something even more valuable, the people God has put in our lives: your spouse, children, parents, friends. it’s easy to get at odds, let little things build up, say hurtful things here, argue there, be disrespectful; one day you look up, and they’re not there anymore. don’t take the people in your life for granted. are you treating them with respect and honor? do they feel treasured, valued, loved? or, are you hard to get along with, unfriendly, argumentative? life is too short to live that way. where there’s disharmony, you’re weakened; you won’t reach your highest potential. I’m asking you today to be a maker and a maintainer of peace. do what you can to keep the atmosphere in your home loving, friendly, kind. be a person of honor, and avoid the fight. if you’ll keep strife out, because there’s unity in your home, you’re going to see that 10x blessing. God is going to increase you with more wisdom, more favor. you will accomplish dreams and reach the fullness of your destiny.