Bread – Strife

August 19, 2016


Psalm 31

In the cover of Your presence You hide them from the plots of men; You store them in Your shelter from the strife of tongues.”  Ps. 31:20

I was planning to write on something else today, when the words “You store them in Your shelter from the strife of tongues” leaped out at me.

In this political season, I think we can safely say that we all suffer from the “strife of tongues.”  The idea of strife is that of bitter arguing or bitter fighting.  Strife arises from our desire to be in control, to be right, and to win.  And our vehicle for fighting bitterly in ancient and modern times both is with action (weapons) and speech (tongues).

It seems like all people everywhere suffer the “strife of tongues.”  We are condemned by the tongue, spoken rudely to by the tongue, criticized by the tongue, and contended with by the tongue.  If anyone is angry or upset with us, they let us know through the tongue.  If anyone disagrees with us, they let us know through the tongue.  Even the church fathers had problems with this – as James said, “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.  How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire?  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.  The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell…no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  Js. 3:5-8  I think you get the point.

So what do we do when we are confronted with someone else’s tongue?  We generally do one of two things; we either respond in kind or we retreat.  God says, through David, abide in Me and you will do neither – you will not respond in kind (but with kindness) and your will not retreat (stand firm in the evil day).  To neither respond in kind nor retreat is a supernatural thing – it is only through God’s power and His protection in our lives that we slough off the strife of the tongue.

But what about the “strife of the tongue” which we ourselves initiate.  We are condemning in our speech, violent in our speech, angry in our speech – what about the fires that we set with our own tongues?  How do we deal with that?  God says, through David, abide in Me and you will have no need to create strife, but can speak truth with love.  To not speak our mind in all things, but to speak God’s mind is a supernatural thing – it is only through God’s power and our sense of safety in His arms and under His wings that we slough off our need to defend ourselves in all things, and are therefore able to speak truth in love, avoiding the strife of the tongue.

There is much talk in today’s world about “coming together” and “speaking kindly” and all those other good things which we believe in Utopia will exist.  These things cannot exist because of the nature of man (and the nature of nature), unless and until we find shelter in the same place – in the arms of Jesus, of God.

In the meantime, as Christians, what are we to do with the “strife of the tongue.”  Well, first, because we are under the shelter of the Most High, we can be quiet when that will have a positive effect and we can speak truth in love when that is what is needed.  And second, we can stand.  When the storm of the strife of tongues encircles us, under the shelter of the Most High we stand in the center, in the eye of the hurricane.  From there we have peace.  From there we have options.  From there we can change the “strife of tongues” into the “peace of tongues.”

The opposite of strife is peace.  And peace does not begin with the tongue.  It begins where we have shelter.   If we want peace and seek the shelter the world provides, we will have no peace.  Peace is to be found in the shelter of God.

May you, today, find that shelter and that peace, and thereby be protected from the “strife of tongues.”

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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