"Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not mind high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Do not be wise in your own conceits." Romans 12:16"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary to one another: so that you cannot do the things that you have in mind. But if you are led of the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, contention, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, murder, drunkenness, reveling, and things like this: of which I tell you now, as I have told you in time past, that they who exercise and practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that belong to the "anointed one" (Christ) have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not glory without reason, challenging one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:16-26
Humility is truly the root of all the fruits of the Spirit of God. It is a position of strength under pressure. Jesus who is God's anointed one came to do many things, and one of those things was to exemplify the purpose and disposition of mankind. You might say that He was the ultimate example of what humanity should be. Strife is not one of the things that Jesus exemplified. There is no doubt that the Pharisees and Sadducees were provoked by the teachings of Jesus, but that was because of their own lusts that were at war within them (James 4:1-6). Jesus never taught anything contrary to the law of Moses, but He did teach in contradiction to the man-made traditions that had collected between Moses and His time. Therefore, the Pharisees and Sadducees promoted strife and sedition against Christ and His mission of peace. In their great effort to defeat Christ, they assisted Him in His mission to bring salvation to the world. Evil may seem to have the upper hand, but it never wins in the end. That is why a follower of Jesus should never worry or fear the world or its powers.
The second century Church Father Tertullian wrote: "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church,"
The gates of hell will not prevail. Jesus is King.
The Humble and Lowly Do Not Participate in Strife
The word "strife" almost explains itself. It sounds confrontational. It literally means:
Strife - Exertion or contention for superiority; contest of emulation, either by intellectual or physical efforts.
Strife is contention for superiority. Oh if we could master this temptation! How we are so driven by the desire to be superior, and in giving into this fleshly lust, we end up doing the opposite (Luke 11:46-48). This is one of many things that has plagued the American Church and family.
There have been so many ambitious men who have aspired to the ministry who did not heed James 3:1, and there have been many church leaders who didn't warn them or use good church government to restrict young, immature, and ambitious men from ruining themselves and others. Pride is like a cancer, and if coupled with knowledge, even good knowledge, it can be a terrible force. In the Hebrew tradition, the young men spent many years as apprentices before they were allowed to become priests. That is why Jesus didn't begin His ministry until He was 30. Since He set aside His attributes to become a man, He submitted himself to all of the needful restrictions in place to help young men to grow into the position of teacher. I'm not saying it's a law, but this would be a good practice for all churches. Men shouldn't be allowed to lead a church until they are at least 30 years of age. Now that is my opinion due to my own observation and experience. Maturity and manhood seem to take the longest to develop. A boy can gain a lot of knowledge and even exceed older men in that knowledge, but wisdom comes from experience and the power of the Holy Spirit. I have observed that if men wait until they are older, the long-term results fare better for the pastor and the church. When men are allowed to go in early between 18 and 28 years of age, the church becomes an experimentation ground where a lot of messes are made. Sometimes the damage will permanently hinder the pastors' future and the churches reputation in the community. Wisdom tells us that we need to be slow in these decisions. Men who are truly serious about following the Lord will first learn to submit to godly authority and also ponder the weight and seriousness involved in becoming a teacher of God's assembly.
"My brethren do not become a large number of teachers, knowing that we will take up and carry the greater judgment." James 3:1
Family order and peace can severely be interrupted by those who are seeking an advantage over others in the family. The first battleground is the immediate family. God has chosen that the Husband is the head (servant leader like Jesus), the wife is to submit to his authority (like Jesus submitted to the father) and the children are to submit to both of them (like the church does to the Triune God). They all are to submit to God and His leading, and in submitting to their God-given position, they are serving God as well as the other family members. Some see this as inferior, but it makes sense and accords with God's design of humanity and the family unit (Ephesians 5:21-33). When divorce and dissensions occur for various reasons within the home, it isn't because of humility and the fruits of the Spirit. No, it is because of strife and various other lusts that control the ones involved. The husband and wife are "one flesh" when joined together in marriage. It is a lifelong commitment of submission to God's order and to their respective positions.
"We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this reason will a man leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife, and the two of them will be one flesh." Ephesians 5:30-31
Notice that the hierarchy doesn't include grandparents. Extended family is probably the second battleground. Grandparents (and Step-grandparents) are not to meddle in the business of their children's family. When a man and a woman leave the home, they are first to submit to God and then each other. It's not that grandparents are forbidden from giving advice or encouragement, but they are not to expect the same level of commitment as they did when their children were at home.
"Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of his youth. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them: they will not be ashamed, but they will speak with the enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:3-5
What are arrows meant to do? They are to be shot, and our aim must be to raise them in the fear and teaching of the Lord. Once they are grown, we are to let loose the string and aim them at the world in hopes that they will not forget the instruction of their youth. When your son becomes a man and your daughter becomes a woman, you must treat them as such. God commands it. Pray that your home is a comfort and a refuge for them. Do not use guilt, strife, or passive aggressive rhetoric to coax them into submission to your will. Respect the decisions they have made for their family, even if it is different from yours. Some things are right and wrong, but many things are a matter of preference. If you truly want to help your children and grandchildren ask them how you can help them. They certainly will let you know and welcome your desire to help. Pray and encourage. Your home will be inviting and a place of peace. It will be remembered as a good place for them to come home and ask for advice.
Humble men are not ambitious to teach and be in charge; neither do they submit to strife in order to get their way. Teaching is a great weight, and if not done in humility, it can be a tool for strife amongst the body of Christ and the family. Many families lose their way and forget God and His standard. They rebel and think that their ideas are somehow better than the Creator of the universe. God's order is best. It always honors Him and helps those who follow. Strife is all around us. You will find it in the halls of government down to the crew working on the pipeline. The stench of its influence fills our world. Pride is the root of strife and it seeks its own glory rather than the glory of the One who made us. Associate with those who aren't ambitious and contentious for superiority.
The Humble and Lowly Do Not Participate in Seditions
Sedition. What is sedition?
Sedition - noun. [Latin seditio. The sense of this word is the contrary of that which is naturally deducible from sedo, or sedeo, denoting a rising or raging, rather than an appeasing. But to set is really to throw down, to drive, and sedition may be a setting or rushing together.] A factious commotion of the people, a tumultuous assembly of men rising in opposition to law or the administration of justice, and in disturbance of the public peace.
Humble men and women aren't involved in such matters. Most people seem to love strife and sedition. Why are we so obsessed with the negative news stations and the reality shows that devolve into contention and strife? It's in our nature. We naturally are desirous of our own glory and pleasure (The flesh). It truly takes a work of the Spirit to change the heart of a person to desire something different. Grace works in the heart of a believer, not just to deliver their souls from eternal death through the death and resurrection of Jesus the anointed one, but to deliver them from this present body of death (Romans 7:24). God empowers His children to overcome their sinful nature. Therefore, the Spirit of humility dwells in the repentant sinner to empower them to live a life of peace and rest. Not rest so much for the body, but for the soul. That is why true Christians are able to face persecution and death so peacefully. Their hope is not in this world, but in the world to come (Ephesians 2:13-22).
"Now I beg you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine that you have learned; and avoid them." Romans 16:17
Avoid them. Within the body of Christ there has to be judgment and discernment. Beware of those who promote a passive church. Our judgment is to be righteous (John 7:24) and in that we are to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). We are supposed to avoid them that cause divisions and offenses. Who are those people? Legalists and Antinomians. To simply put it, Legalists are those who desire to "add" to the written commands of Christ. They seek to steal your freedom to enjoy God's blessings and live in peace (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12). Most of the time these efforts come subtly by making preferred practice and ritual into a law that men will oppress you with (Colossians 2:16-23). Antinomians accept God's salvation without submitting to His commands, which is impossible. They sin that grace may abound (Romans 6:1-4). The problem is that those who have such a philosophy don't possess the special grace of salvation through Christ. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). The Christian holds to the clear teachings of Christ (Matthew 5-7 for example) and those things that are less clear, there is freedom and room for opinion. God has boundaries, and those boundaries were created for our good. Humble men and women are patient and always avoiding seditions.