Joyce Meyer - The 3 Main Causes Of Strife
Strife is a whole another level. Offense is like a little hangnail. Strife is what you get after the hangnail has festered and become infected and now it's starting to really make you sick. That's why it's important to take care of these little offenses. Little things, little foxes spoil the vine. "You hurt my feelings". Well, just stop all that. Don't even say, "You hurt my feelings". Say to yourself, "I got my feelings hurt. It's my responsibility". Amen? But now, strife is defined as bickering, arguing, heated disagreement, and an angry undercurrent.
And I think the part that's the most scary to me is the angry undercurrent because that's when everybody kind of knows something's not right, but nobody's dealing with it. You can feel it in the atmosphere, you can feel it between a husband and wife. You can feel it between parents and their kids. You can feel it at work. You can even feel it in the church. Amen?
And so, today we're going to talk about three things that the Bible says causes strife. You see, a lot of times you can't get rid of the root until you deal with the fruit. And so, we're going to kind of back into this message, first looking at how important it is to learn how to live in agreement. And in order to do that we have to learn how to disagree agreeably. Amen? So, we're going to look first at Matthew 18:19. "Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever, anything and everything that they might ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by my father who is in heaven".
Do we even begin to realize how powerful that is? God says, if I can find just two people that can get along and get into agreement and really walk in love, the power of their prayers is ramped up to a whole another level. And whatever they ask, I'll do it for them. My, my, my. Psalm 133, the entire Psalm, which is only a few verses, so don't feel like you're gonna faint. "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity". Unity. Verse 2, "It is like the precious ointment poured on the head that ran down on the beard, even the beard of Aaron the first high priest, that came down upon the collar and skirts of his garment consecrating the whole body".
Now, when they were anointed back in those days they didn't just dab a little oil on 'em like we do today. They took a bottle and poured it on them. We had a guy at our office, powerful man of God who deals with the underground church in china, been in prison so many times, I mean, you can just tell, I mean, he's just got power all over him. And so, I asked him to pray for me before he left. And he pulled out this big vial of oil and I thought, "Uh-oh! Uh-oh, he looks like the real deal". And I said to his assistant, because this guy didn't even speak English.
So, I thought, "I can't communicate with him". So I said to his assistant, I said, "He's not gonna pour that on my head, is he"? He said, "No, no, no". So, thankfully, he dabbed me too. But the point is, is they weren't into all that back then. You got anointed and it ran down your beard and your hair and all over and just covered your whole body. And, so this is saying that unity is like the anointing. I want you to get ahold of that. Some of you maybe don't really understand what the anointing is. But the anointing represents the presence and the power of God in your life. Amen?
I do what I do by God's anointing. And let me tell you something, we all need to carry an anointing. You just don't need an anointing because you're in ministry, you need an anointing to raise kids. You certainly need an anointing to be married and stay married. Amen? And then the next verse says, "It is like the dew of lofty Mount Hermon and the dew that comes on the Hills of Zion for there," there where? "There where there's unity the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forever upon the high and the lowly".
So, if you have unity you're going to have anointing and you're going to have blessing. If there's unity in your home, you're going to have an anointed home and a blessed home. If there's unity in your church, you're going to have an anointed church and a blessed church. And people, I mean, some people may come to a church and stay there because there's a great speaker but I tell you what, what people really want is the anointing and they don't even really know what that is sometimes, but it's just like it makes everything good. Just makes everything good.
And so, certainly satan works endlessly to do everything that he can to try to get everything full of strife. The business full of strife. The marriage full of strife. The church full of strife. The worship team full of strife. The leadership team full of strife. The kids in strife. The school in strife. And I tell you what, in our world today, this is actually one of the hugest problems that we're dealing with and so I'm going to take that scripture and I'm going to turn it around for you because this is exactly what it's saying. Where there is no unity there will be no anointing and there will be no blessing.
So we have to fight for unity. And I said the other night that when we started our ministry God spoke three things to my heart and I didn't know what I'm telling you now so this was God giving me direction. He said, "There's three things I want you to do and if you do these things, I'll be able to bless you. Keep the strife out of your life", was number one. "Keep it out of your ministry", "Keep it out of your home".
Now, interestingly enough, he gave us the responsibility to do that. You can't just stay, "Well, I wish we got along". That's not going to work. You gotta find a way to get along. And usually that's going to mean that somebody's got to do some adjusting and some adapting. And I didn't want it to be me. And then he said, "Do what you do with excellence and be a person of integrity". We won't get into the other two, but it makes a great series of teachings.
What is your home like? Do you participate in strife at your church? Strife manifests in criticism and judgment and a bad attitude towards things. A sulky spirit. In the home it manifests in people avoiding each other, not talking to each other or screaming and yelling and even if nobody's arguing and bickering there's an angry undercurrent that everybody can feel. And it needs to change. And each one of us has to take the responsibility to do our part to make sure that it changes.
At our ministry we give everybody this message when they're hired. We let them know that we don't put up with strife. And if they won't get out of strife, we try to help 'em, we don't just, you know, kick people out of the door but people don't need to be working for me if they don't like me. Amen? I mean, really, that's just the true. I mean, you don't need to be going to a church if you don't like the pastor. I mean how silly is that? And so, I pray all the time that God will get rid of the people that are in my building that don't belong there and bring in the ones that do.
I want the right people, not just people. I want the right people in my life. 'Cause I tell you what, one person in strife that is not dealt with can actually spread so many problems that it can end up, and I'm not exaggerating because I've seen it happen, it can end up destRoying a church. You know there's a lot of great churches being built, but I've heard there are more closing down than those that are being built. And a lot of the reason is this kind of nonsense right here. Everybody's got an opinion and everybody's wants to be right and everybody wants to be the boss and merciful day.
So we have to learn how to disagree agreeably. So, I want to say something that I hope that God just gives the anointing for you to catch this right away. I don't agree with Dave about all of his opinions and everything he thinks or necessarily even everything he does, but I do agree with Dave. I love him. He's a good man. I agree with his character. I agree with his principles. And see, to live in agreement doesn't necessarily mean that you agree with every person about all their ways, but it means that you can respect them and you can appreciate them.
Okay, let's take an example like maybe all the denominational stuff. Now, you know, I mean there's a lot of people that like me but there's a lot of people that don't think I should be doing what I'm doing. There's a lot of people who maybe think because I don't have a lot of formal education that I'm not qualified to do this. You know, on and on and on. I mean, I've had a lot of really nice things said about me, but I've had a lot of really not so nice things said about me. And all I can say is the proof is in the 40 years I've been doing it, so I won't even get into that, so.
And the Bible says you will know them by their fruit, not by their doctrine. And a lot of the people that have criticized me for what I am doing aren't doing anything. So, that's really sad. But let's just say that you have yeah-and-so church over here and maybe they don't believe in, you know, any of the Pentecostal things. They think all the gifts of the spirit went away with the church. You know, a lot of times we just make up stuff because we don't have it in our life so we decided it's out because it's not my experience.
And, anyway, I dare not get into all that, it'd be too long. But, so, they decide that they're against me. They don't agree with me on let's say, three points. Well, you know what? We can still love each other. You're not going to find two people who are going to agree about everything. You just will not find two people, you're not going to find a church where you like every single solitary thing that they do. You're not going to find a child that you like everything they do. You're not going to find somebody to be married to that you like everything that they do. But love can rise above that. And love can work to find places of agreement.
Now, Dave and I are extremely different. Our personalities are different. I mean, you should see us try to decorate a house together. It is like, well we finally just gave that up. I said, "Dave, please, please just let me do the house. It's really important to me. Just let me do the house. You can go do something else you love to do, I won't say a thing. But let me do the house". So, Dave plays all the golf he wants to and I do all the decorating. You're not ever going to get along with anybody if you think you have to control everything. So, find the things that are really important to you and stand for those, but then one of the ways to get to do that is if you then give that person a lot of the stuff that they like. It's called compromise. Amen?
So I want to say it again. I don't have to agree with everybody's church doctrine but I can appreciate the fruit of what people are doing. I can appreciate the years of hard work and the sacrifice that they've made to preach the Gospel. Let's stop looking at what we don't agree with and start purposefully finding things that we can agree with. I don't agree with all of Dave's opinions, but I like the way he looks. Come on, find something. Amen?
I like the fact that Dave gets up every morning and he cleans up and he shaves and he looks nice all the time. I like the fact that he's affectionate. I like that. Matter of fact, I told him, I said, "You know, I'm pretty tired today," and we gotta go home, pack and unpack some stuff and head back out again tomorrow for somewhere. I said, we've got this big massager at home, it's like a sander. Anybody ever seen one of those? Aren't those amazing? Well, my chiropractor uses it on me but he's been telling me, "You need to teach Dave how to use this," which I've never done. But I said, "Will you use that massager on me when we get home today"? And he said, "Yeah, I'll do it for 30 seconds".
Well, I think he's up now to about a minute or two. So, Dave is gonna actually give me a massage with that sander when I get home. I love Dave for that. I'm in agreement with that. Do you understand what I mean when I say that we don't have to agree with everything a person feels, thinks, or decides, but we can agree with them. Let's get beyond what people do to the person they are. Half the time, we get so caught up in not liking what somebody does and we never get beyond that so we never really even find out who the person really is. Or how wonderful they are. I don't like your hair, so you're out.
And here's another thing now, this is gonna be good, are you ready? Ask the person next to you, "Are you ready"? Okay, here it comes. I don't even have to try to change Dave's mind when I don't think like he does. Some are going, like... Okay, let me give you an example. Dave and I don't fight much anymore. I mean, every once in awhile we'll have a little tiff but, I mean, it's very, very rare and if we do it lasts about 5 minutes because neither one of us will put up with it. But, in the beginning, I mean we had a lot a... Strife. And it was mostly me 'cause Dave was pretty peaceful but he is very opinionated and I'm very opinionated. And so, that could sometimes be a problem.
So, in the earlier years of our marriage, Dave and I would start trying to discuss something we didn't agree on and the next thing I knew we were in this huge fight and honestly I would get so confused I didn't even know what happened. Do you ever have conversations like that? I mean, I'm, like, wait a minute, we were trying to talk about what color to paint a room and then the next thing I know I'm dragging everything up from day one when we got married and then I end with, "We just can't talk about anything! We just can't communicate"! And he would be just, like, "What do you mean we can't talk about anything?! We talk about stuff all the time"! And then I would say, "Don't yell at me"! And he'd say, "Well, you're yelling at me"! You got it?
And I honestly, did not know what was wrong because I was far enough along in the Lord that I didn't want to fight like that, I didn't want to be like that. And so, I really started asking God to show me what the problem was and he did. I had a root of rejection in my life from my childhood. I want you to listen 'cause this is going to put some people over the top. And so, because I felt rejected, I didn't know how to separate my opinions and my ideas from who I was. And so, when somebody didn't think like I did, the only thing I knew to do was try to change their mind because if I could get them to agree with me then I felt like I was okay. But if they didn't agree with me then I couldn't go away feeling like I was okay. Then I felt like I was being rejected.
And what God showed me is just because Dave doesn't agree with your opinion that doesn't mean that he doesn't agree with you. Just because he doesn't love your idea that doesn't mean he doesn't love you. Is anybody understanding what I'm talking about? And so, you have to give people the freedom to have their own opinions. And I'm not saying you can't discuss something, but you know, if it's obvious... You try once to change someone's mind and they're digging in deeper, then you might as well just zip it and go on and have a peaceful day. Because it's not going to work.
Now, you may prefer to keep arguing. I don't know, but I can't do that anymore. I just can't do it. And I've learned that it's better for me to just shut up, not have to have the last word. How many of you are really addicted to having to have the last word? And here we go, this is a really big one. Here is a sentence that's gonna maybe save your marriage: "I think I'm right but I may be wrong". Isn't that anointed? Instead of, "Well, you're wrong! And I'm right! And you never listen to me"! "You know what, honey, I think I'm right but I may be wrong". It's like... I'm still trying to get him to say that a little bit more to me. We're still working on that part.
Matter of fact, when we were driving here, I think it was Thursday night, or maybe we were coming from the airport Thursday, I don't know. In one car ride Dave said, "Oh, I was wrong about that". And in the same car ride he said, "You know, you're right about that". And I thought, "Lord, have mercy, Jesus is coming soon". I mean just to say that I said it, ladies, how many of you are married to somebody that thinks they're always right about everything? Well, why don't you just let 'em think they are and be quiet? I mean, really! Is it that big of a deal? I mean, we use to get into these battles over which way to go to the hardware store. I mean, "Well, what are you going that way for"? "Well, it's the closest way". "No, it's not, this way's closer".
Alright, alright, I said last night but I wanna say this again. James 3:16 says, "Where there is strife there is also jealousy (envy) contention (rivalry and selfish ambition)", let me start again, "For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention, (rivalry, selfish ambition) there will also be confusion, (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices". So, let me just throw this out for you guys to think about. Mom and dad, if you have strife in the home between you, you can expect to have rebellious kids.
Now you're never gonna get along with people if you don't have a large degree of humility because pride is the number one cause for strife, pride. Romans 12:16. How many of you are fairly adaptable in your temperament, in your personality? Wow, how many of you aren't? Come on, don't... You gotta be one or the other.
Well, you know, if you're not you can learn to be for the sake of peace. Now, you know, some things you need to stand for. I know what I stand for, but there's a lot of this other peripheral stuff that just honestly does not make one bit of difference. What difference does it make if I don't think we should go north to the hardware store and Dave goes north? What difference does it make if it would end up takin' a little bit longer? Who cares?
You know, there are many other important things to be doing in life other than starting a fight over some stupid, unedifying, ignorant, you know. That just, you know, let me tell you something. Just let the guy drive. Clue, let the guy drive. And I don't care if he's lost. He's not gonna stop and ask for directions, so just get out your book. Plug me into your ear, or do something, but don't try to tell him how to drive. Powerful. Mike says, "This is powerful," yeah. Come on, I'm tryin' to save some marriages.
Alright, Romans 12:16, "Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty (snobbish, high minded, and exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to people and things and give yourself to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits". You can't get along with people if you're not gonna be adaptable and adjustable. There's some things that are really, really important to me, and I would stand my ground for those things. But there's a lot of other things that it's just like, is it really gonna be that earth shaking if it doesn't happen the way that I would like it to happen? Is anybody in this building understanding what I'm sayin' today? Now come on. The same anointing is over in the overflow. It's also comin' right through that television screen into your home. I'm not just talkin' to these beautiful people here in this building. I am talkin' to you.
Okay now look. Boy, I love these scriptures. 1 Corinthians 1:9, "God is faithful (trustworthy, reliable, and therefore ever true to his promise, and he can be depended on: by him you were called into companionship and participation with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord. But"... Come on, you gotta watch the "Buts" and the "Therefores" in the Bible. And "If" is also a big word. "But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissension or faction or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments. For it has been made clear to me, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions and wranglings and factions among you".
By the way, Chloe had a church in her house, and Chloe is a women's name. Just sayin'. "For it has been made clear to me that there are factions, strife, and wranglings in that house". So, you see, here we see Paul is dealing with strife. He's over these churches, and he's sayin', "Look, now God is faithful. He wants to bless you. He's gonna take care of everything that needs to be taken care of in your life. He's not gonna disappoint you. His promises are true, but you guys gotta get this strife out and learn how to get along".
I just feel the urge to say that again. God is faithful, reliable, trustworthy. You can depend on him. His promises are true, and he wants to bless you, but you gotta get along, gotta get this offense out of your life, amen? I don't know who you might be mad at, but drop it and leave it. Let it go. Leave it here. Don't take it home with you. Otherwise I'll have to come back next year, and I don't wanna preach on the same thing next year. I want to preach on something else. Love gives up its right to be right. Do you know what? Being right is highly overrated. I mean, it really is. It's kinda like you feel smug for just a second.
I tell this story sometimes, and I just remember it so vividly. Dave and I were in a little picture frame, art store one day out at the mall, and he really liked this picture, like, so we're back to decorating now. And I just didn't like it at all, and, I mean, the house is big. I could've just said, "Sure, honey, get it, and put it in your corner of the world," you know? But, "How 'bout your man cave or something"? But, no, I'm like, "Oh, I don't like that. I don't wanna get that".
And so I kept it up until I got my way. How many of you ladies are good at keepin' it up until you get your way? How 'bout guys? How many of you are good at keepin' it up until you get your way? We got one honest man in this building. God bless you, sir. And so, finally, he said, "Alright, just do what you want". Well, we went out of the store and started walkin' down the mall, and I just felt like... And you know what? The Holy Spirit spoke to me. He said, "You think you won, but you lost. You didn't have to take the picture home, but you didn't please me".
Alright. Next one I'm gonna talk about is greed. Proverbs 28:25 says, "He who is of a greedy spirit stirs up strife," and they stir up strife for several reasons. Number one, they're never permanently satisfied no matter what they have. Proverbs 1:19 says that "Greed steals the life of its possessor". A greedy spirit will just steal your whole life. It's terrible to never be able to be satisfied with anything, and most of the reason when people are like that, why they're like that, is because they're not satisfied with themselves.
Come on. They're resentful, envious, and jealous of what other people have, and God wants us to learn to be happy where we're at on the way to where we're going. Enjoy your life where you're at on the way to where you're going. How tragic is it when people get to the end of their life, and maybe they got a whole bunch of stuff, but they never really took the time to enjoy any of it? Or you never took the time to enjoy your kids or you been married to somebody for 35 years, but they're a stranger. You never even really took the time to know them.
James 4:1-2. Now I told you last night that sometime this year I hope to do a series on my 20 favorite scriptures, and I can tell you that this, James 4:2, will be in it 'cause this was fairly life changing for me, you know, one of those moments where God just shows you something that reveals what's really behind a problem that you have, and it's not just, like, a nice scripture. It really affects your life. Have any of you had scriptures like that that have just really affected your life in a major way?
James 4:1, "What leads to strife discords and feuds and how do quarrels conflicts and fights originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members"? So he's basically sayin' all the strife that you have is a result of all the stuff you want that you're not getting yet. So you're jealous, and you covet what other people have and then your desires go unfulfilled. So you become a murderer because to hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned". Strong language, right? "You burn with envy and anger, and you're not able to obtain the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek, so you fight and you war. And you do not have because you do not ask".
I don't even know how to tell you the peace that came to my soul when I saw all the stuff that I was tryin' to make happen in my life, tryin' to change Dave, tryin' to change my kids, tryin' to make my ministry grow. And it was just keepin' me upset all the time, and, you know, when you're upset all the time, then you're gonna take it out on the people around you. How many of you know it's easier to have peace in your home if you start out peaceful yourself, amen?
And so that statement, "You have not because you ask not," that was very life changing to me, and I made a decision. From now on when I want something I'm gonna ask God, and if it's what he wants me to have he's gonna give it to me. And if it's not what he wants me to have, then he's not gonna give it to me. And there's no point in me saying that I trust God if I'm not gonna trust him to give me what I'm supposed to have and withhold what I'm not supposed to have. How many times do we dislike somebody who has what we want, and God hasn't given it to us yet? Amen?
I recently lost some weight because I started walking a lot for exercise, and I mean, I work out with weights and a trainer three times a week, but adding the walking has been very, very good for me. And so a friend of mine said to me the other day, she said, "Well, I just have to tell ya I am really jealous". And, I mean, she loves me, but she was just bein' honest, but, you know, here's the thing. There's no point in wanting what somebody else has if you're not willing to do what they did to get it. Disliking somebody because they worked hard and now have a victory in their life just really shows how totally immature we are. The promises of God are for whosoever will, not just whosoever would like to have the result, but whosoever will do what they need to do to get the results.
Oh, boy. I don't know, they're clappin' more over here than... Don't have strife in your life in order to get anything that belongs to this world. Come on, don't have strife in your life in order to get anything that belongs to this world. Don't get in strife in order to try to get to be the worship leader in your church. You'd be better off to zip your lip and hope maybe you can lead worship in heaven. Don't get in strife to have a position, to look powerful, to have the right image, to make money, to be famous, about your reputation. Seek God, and let him give you the secret petitions and desires of your heart.
And I can tell you one of the tests that we all have to pass is watching somebody else get what we want. Watching somebody else get what we want and having to learn to be happy for them. You know, there's times when I feel jealous of people. And if somebody would've asked me, "Well, what do I do if I feel jealous"? Go beyond how you feel, and pray that God would bless them even more. That's what breaks the power of this kinda stuff. Greed means to covet, to have an intense desire for, or to lust after, to envy, or to be jealous. And you know what? Lust does not just refer to sex. We can lust after anything, and I believe what that means is to want something so bad that you've just decided you can't be happy without it.
"Well, if I can't get my own home, I can't be happy". "If I can't have kids, I can't be happy". "If I don't get married, I can't be happy". "If I have to stay married, I can't be happy". "If I don't get that promotion at work, I can't be happy". Well, the only thing that we should ever say along those lines is, "God, if I don't have you in my life, there is no way I can be happy".
You know, in Ephesians chapter 5 it says that greed is a very serious problem. Actually, it's listed in the same line with idolaters. "For be sure of this, that no person practicing sexual vice or impurity in thought or in life, or who is covetous who has a lustful desire for the property of others and is greedy for gain. For he is in effect an idolater. Don't let anybody think that somebody like that has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God".
Now, you know, to be honest there are sins that we really are like, "Oh, man, you can't do that," but then there are acceptable sins. You say to somebody, "Well, I'm a devil worshipper, man," they gonna get away from you. But if it's somebody that's kinda greedy you might keep hangin' out with them, and the Bible says don't hang out with somebody that's greedy. You know why? Because what's on somebody's gonna get off on you if you spend enough time with 'em. The only way you can fight greed... I'll tell ya how to fight greed, and we all feel it from time to time. The minute you start feeling dissatisfied in what you got, go be generous to somebody. Give something away. Honestly, I'm tellin' ya I do this. Give something away. If I'm jealous of somebody, I bless 'em.
Come on, I'm tryin' to give you some secrets. It took me a lifetime to learn this stuff. This is a good way to get it free. If you don't like somebody the best way to have your heart changed is to pray for them to be blessed and, if you have an opportunity, to bless them yourself. That's spiritual warfare. That's fighting against greed.
Now we have to read these because this is amazing. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, "I wrote you in my previous letter not to associate closely and habitually with unchaste and impure people, not meaning, of course, that you must altogether shun immoral people in the world, or the greedy graspers and cheaters and thieves or idolaters, since otherwise you would need to get out of the world and human society altogether". I mean, the Bible is so practical, so balanced. "But now I write to you", now get this, "Now I write to you not to associate with anybody who bears the name of Christian brother".
Come on, you'd be better off to hang out with a greedy person that was a heathen than to hang out with a Christian who acts like a heathen. "Don't hang out with them if they're known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or if they're an idolater whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God, or if it's a person with a foul tongue railing, abusing, reviling, slandering, or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. No you must not even so much as eat with such a person".
Wow, I'm glad I had one little faint clap over there. Okay, let me just throw this out. Some of you could radically change your life if you would change who you hang out with. I think I'll give a little prophecy. Thus saith the Lord, "Get some new friends". I'm serious. You know, Elisha wanted a double portion of Elijah's spirit, and I don't have time to go there, but, I mean, Elijah kept testing him and tellin' him, "Leave me alone". He said, "I will not leave you. As the Lord my God lives, I will not leave you. I will not leave you. I will not", he knew who to hang out with. He knew what he wanted, and he was gonna hang out with the right person to get it.
And, sure enough, he ended up getting a double portion of his spirit. I mean, you're better off to get around somebody that's anointed and hang with them 'cause that anointing will get off on you. It'll bless your life. Get around somebody that's generous, and watch how they tip waiters and waitresses. Watch what they do. Get around somebody that really walks in love, and listen to what they will talk about and what they won't talk about, and follow the example.