Sowers of Strife

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Romans 16:17-20


I.         The contentious hearings leading up to the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh has generated a lot of discussion on ethics and morality

            A.        I was reading an article by Paul Prather, published in the Lexington Herald-Leader on October 11, 2018

                        1.         His expressed concern was not that people disagreed, but the way they disagreed

                        2.         “We don’t just disagree with out opponents anymore. We don’t just criticize them. We demonize them. We mock them. We hate them. ... We don’t just wish them to see the error or their ways. We wish them destroyed. We wish them imprisoned. We wish them humiliated. ...”

            B.        This is one of many things that disturbs me about recent events. It is not enough to disagree with another person, people feel compelled to destroy.

            C.        It is not an issue reserved only for politics, it is the tremors of disasters awaiting in society and even in the church

                        1.         Paul warned that we must be watchful against those who would cause dissension - Romans 16:17-18

                        2.         One of the things God finds disgusting are people who cause strife among brethren - Proverbs 6:19

II.        The Source of Strife

            A.        Perversity (crooked thinking) - Proverbs 6:14

                        1.         A love of sin - Proverbs 17:19

            B.        Hatred - Proverbs 10:12

                        1.         We lose sight of what we are here for: We are here to get as many people to heaven as possible.

                        2.         Instead it becomes a matter of “I’m right. You’re wrong.”

                        3.         Contentious, never happy with what others do, always finding fault - Proverbs 26:21

            C.        Pride - Proverbs 13:10

                        1.         Scoffers, making mockery of what you don’t believe - Proverbs 22:10

            D.        Being hot-tempered - Proverbs 15:18

                        1.         Not taking time to think

            E.        Refusal to learn - Proverbs 18:6

                        1.         Any fool can start a quarrel - Proverbs 20:3

III.       The Dangers of Strife

            A.        It is hard to stop, once started - Proverbs 17:14

            B.        It leads to defilement - Hebrews 12:14-15

                        1.         We are to pursue peace and holiness. The opposite is falling short and becoming bitter

                        2.         The phrase “root of bitterness” is found in Deuteronomy 29:14-21

                                    a.         The fear was some may turn from God and become bitter.

                                    b.         Such a person will become stubborn and destructive of what is good

                        3.         The Hebrew writer saw the possibility that some in enduring hardships because of God’s discipline would give up.

                                    a.         But the same problem can arise. It isn’t enough to give up, bitterness leads people to want to destroy what they left.

                                    b.         And by it they become defiled.

                        4.         There is no peace, no holiness. The bitterness becomes a poison that destroys relationships

            C.        It leads to useless worship - Matthew 5:23-24

                        1.         The worship referred to here was under the Old Law, but the point is clear.

                        2.         If you have a disagreement with a brother, settle the problem first, then worship God.

                        3.         No one can please God while causing problems between people.

            D.        It leads to devoured brethren - Galatians 5:13-15

                        1.         If we love and serve each other, the church will grow

                        2.         If we turn to fault finding, contending with each other, we will just destroy ourselves

                        3.         The illustration is of wild animals snipping at each other, looking for a weakness, until no one is left standing.

            E.        It ruins our influence - Philippians 2:14-16

                        1.         In order to prove to be blameless, innocent children of God, we must do all things without grumbling or disputing

                        2.         Bickering doesn’t show us to be different from the world. It proves the bickerers are no different that the rest of the world

                        3.         Without unity, efforts at evangelism are destroyed

IV.      It is not what Jesus wants - John 17:20-23

            A.        Jesus’ desire for his people is that they be one

            B.        By our unity the world knows we are from God

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