Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen, excerpted from a forthcoming book called, “What We Need to Know and Do.
From the Bible:
Note: Likening the scriptures means to apply the scriptures to our daily lives.
Proverbs 13:10—Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
Likening the Scriptures to Our Lives—Pride, the universal sin, is at the root of contention as it expresses itself through selfishness. We are to be wise and recognize this and seek humility, which is the beginning virtue of exaltation.
Matthew 5:9—Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Likening the Scriptures to Our Lives—How blessed and happy are those who seek peace rather than contention. The natural blessing of this love and peace is happiness rather than the horrible feelings one has when embroiled in contention.
IDEAS FOR DAILY LIVING
Here are three ideas to consider in dealing with and overcoming a spirit of contention:
1. Cultivate a personal lifestyle based on spiritual values and peace.
- Pray—As in all things, prayer is an absolute. Prayer is indispensable as a strategy for dealing with and overcoming contention. Pray not just for others to understand, but for you to be understanding and empathetic in the situation.
- Repentance—Seek to purify your attitude and behavior so that the Spirit of the Lord can enlighten and direct you in all things—and especially with this particular challenge to avoid contention. Above all, we can be forgiving, for not to do so just may be the primary sin.
- Feast upon the word of God—The word of God has power. Preaching and teaching the word of God canchange our hearts. Remember that the word of God will tell us all things to do. We live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
- Seek to possess the love of God—Let us hold to the word of God so that we might stay on the straight and narrow path and come to partake of the love of God. We literally come unto Christ, and as we pray with all the energy of our hearts we can receive and possess the pure love of Christ, i.e., charity. We will then have no desire to contend one with another.
- Overcome pride and selfishness—Humility can and will empower us to overcome pride us as we develop a relationship with God and recognize our dependence upon Him. We will be submissive, easily entreated, teachable, and possess a broken heart and contrite spirit.
- Self-control—We have been counseled to bridle our passions, control our tongues (Psalm 39:1), always respond with a soft answer (see Proverbs 15:1), and, above all, to exercise patience and forbearance (see Matthew 5:38-42; Colossians 3:12-14).
2. Become a peace-maker in your relationships with others.
- Be positive—Don’t seek to find fault, lay blame, or criticize, but rather be solution- oriented with a “how can we get along in harmony” attitude rather than “who is at fault and they must be held accountable and even punished.”
- Seek to understand—Listen…listen…listen. Seek empathy. Once people feel that they are truly understood, they feel appreciated and of worth. Their ego or strong feelings concerning the matter are satisfied so that they can communicate without being defensive or demanding.
- Cultivate agreed-upon values—Agreed-upon values bring unity to the group or the cause that you are involved with—especially in marriage and family activities. Seek unity, for if we are one we are the Lord’s).
- Strategically root-out adversarial relationships—To argue, retaliate, and strongly debate (so as just to be “right”), to seek vengeance, and/or in reality simply to seek to aggrandize oneself due to pride and selfishness—these things will always result in ill feelings and lack of progress toward solving the expressed problem or challenge. Confrontation from others can be handled with decency and civility. Situations of contention can be turned to situations of cooperation and collaboration.
- Communication—Open and honest communication is vital in order to avoid contention. Discuss peaceably. Sometimes we even have to agree to disagree in regard to an idea, process, or solution to a problem. Time is often an ally of communication. Be patient in communicating, for sometimes it simply takes time for divergent opinions to coalesce and for the meeting of the minds to occur. Remember that the way you say it can make all the difference in your discussions.
3. Focus daily on the marvelous benefits of unity, peace, and cooperative enterprise—at home, in the Church, in the work place, and in the community.
- Write it down; make a list—At work, at school, and wherever you are—and especially within your marriage and family—make a list of all the good things that are happening. Your spouse, your children, and co-workers will love it. Write down the things you enjoy and the things others do that you appreciate. Look for the good in others. Praise them with a thank you note or reminder of their goodness. Your kindness and thoughtfulness will radiate and the spirit of contention, if present, will go away because of your goodness. Remember that all really good things take time—so don’t give up. Your patience and kindness will be a crowning blessing in your life.
- Remind yourself always to be a peace-maker—Surround yourself with reminders, prompts, emblems, and gentle prods toward peace-making (notes, posters, pictures, pins, banners, requests for input from others, etc.). Changing your environment in worthy ways can often change your thought patterns and thus your actions.