It was a peaceful, quiet and relaxing summer day at the lake. Daniel and Felicia had settled their bitter fighting and quarrelling the day before. They were usually shouting, punching and kicking each other. The day before the police were called in to help de-escalate the most recent squabble. In the end, they had to separate for the night. When they came back together the following morning both Daniel and Felicia were apologetic. They promised to change. They vowed to stop the violent outbursts. It wasn’t long, however, before another violent episode started up again. What was causing these episodes to happen so frequently? It was strife.
Strife is not a new phenomenon. It showed up in biblical times and occurs in our current society. It springs up in personal relationships, on the job and on the street. It divides married couples and whole groups of people. Strife causes separation, division, war and divorce. It is very damaging to the health of relationships because it brings opposition between two or more parties.
So, what is strife?
Strife is defined as “bitter conflict; heated often violent dissension.” Strife is a state of disagreement or disharmony; a state of open, pro-longed fighting; a vying with others for victory or supremacy. A few synonyms for strife include conflict, battle, struggle, clash, combat, warfare, contention, discord, animosity, and bickering.
Genesis 13:6-8 gives us an example of strife between the herdsmen of Abram and his nephew, Lot. It says,
“And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” (King James Version)
The remedy to end the strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot was to separate them. Strife can result in feuds and generational wars that produce devastating effects. In the U.S., the Hatfields and McCoys are a cultural example of this. One of the most effective strategies to put an end to strife is for both parties to reach a mutual agreement. Each party must ask for and walk in forgiveness toward one another. The parties must engage in honest conversation to begin to heal and genuinely release each other. This way true restoration can take place and a new level of relationship is established. The resulting unity and mutual respect will be a model for future generations.