TOPIC: RECOGNIZING AND DEALING WITH STRIFE
Scripture: The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed one, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound.] Luke 4:18-19 (AMPC)
My husband, Dave, and I had been active in the church for a long time. At church, we had bright smiles and mixed well with other church members. I’m sure people thought we were the ideal couple.
But we weren’t ideal. We had a strife-laden marriage—and it showed in the home. When we arrived at church, we set aside all the strife for a period of time. After all, we did not want our friends to know what things were really like at home behind closed doors. Dave and I had constant strife—but strife isn’t always open warfare. Strife is partially defined as an angry undercurrent.
We bickered and argued at times, but we also frequently pretended everything was fine between us. I look back now and believe that we didn’t fully realize we had a problem. The Bible teaches us that we speak out of our hearts. If we had only really listened to what we said about and to one another, we would have realized that something was wrong. For example, we made jokes in public about each other. “She thinks she’s the boss,” Dave would say.
“She wants what she wants and stays on me until she gets it. Joyce wants to control everything and everybody.” Then he would pause to kiss me on top of my head and smile. “I don’t think Dave’s hearing is very good,” I’d say. “I nearly always have to ask him four times to take out the garbage.” I’d smile, and everyone was supposed to know it was a joke.
Not everyone picked up on the undercurrents, but they were there. Those who frequently visited our home eventually saw even more chaos and underlying anger. But we smiled and said, “I’m only kidding,” when we put the other one down, so how could there be any real problems? When the home atmosphere is terrible, the devil loves it. Division is his goal, and unfortunately, he is frequently winning in that situation. He loves it when people pretend and no one in the family actually faces the problems.
That’s ideal for the powers of darkness. Satan would have kept on winning unless Dave and I had learned the dangers of strife and faced the truth about ourselves. We had to look at ourselves and admit how we had failed God and one another. We needed to acknowledge that our smiles and jokes only masked the pain. If Dave and I were going to defeat the attacks of the devil, we had to make drastic changes. We had to fight the undercurrents and bring the darkness into the light.
This is the same message for all of us. We need to open ourselves to God’s Word and see our failings and shortcomings. We need to be able to say, “I have been wrong.” Dave and I had both developed a bad habit—I’ll say it even stronger—Satan had made inroads into our minds. We had been justifying our behavior and blaming each other for our problems. We needed to be shown the error of our ways, and thank God, He did show us.
We had to study God’s Word extensively, and both of us had to be willing to humble ourselves in order for the atmosphere in our home to change from one of bickering, arguing, heated disagreement, and an angry undercurrent to one of peace and joy. The Holy Spirit worked with us, and we now enjoy peace. We respect each other and try to use good manners in private as well as in public. We finally stopped listening to Satan’s lies. We began to use the weapons of God’s Word, praise, and prayer, and we have experienced great victory over the strongholds that once existed in our minds.
Prayer of the Day: Father, I’m so glad You came to deliver those who are oppressed. Thank You for helping me realize that my oppression comes from Satan, and for providing the weapons of your Word and prayer that I can use to break free from the devil’s powerful clutches. I pray, in the name of the Lord Jesus, that I will remain free both now and forever, amen.