Posts Tagged ‘spirit of strife’

Getting out of Midian

This is not our destiny!

Midian is not our destiny!

There is a powerful story in Scripture about Moses running to the land of Midian. It happens after he kills an Egyptian who had abused one of his Hebrew brethren (Ex. 2:11-15). In this circumstance Moses expresses a common feeling… what most of us feel in the midst of injustice.

In verse 12 it states the problem… “He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand”. The spirit of strife arose inside of Moses to such a degree that it blinded his heart… forsaking the command of God in regards to murder.

Choices are the fruit of a heart’s focus!

Raised an Egyptian and coming to grips with the Hebrew heartbeat was like standing in an intersection and not knowing which way to turn. Moses’ wrong choice released the confusion that resided in his heart and created an enormous backlash among his brethren. The next day he went out to find two Hebrew men fighting. He spoke to the man who started it: “Why are you hitting your neighbor?” The man shot back: “Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?” Then Moses panics… “oh no, word’s gotten out; people know about this”. Secrets are often difficult to shake free from. Pharaoh hears about it and tries to kill Moses, but Moses gets away to the land of Midian. He sits down by a well with his confusion and there receives the call to be the “hand” of deliverance for God’s people (Ex. 3:1-4).

Midian is not the place Moses chose to go…

But God would meet Him there. Interestingly the word Midian means “striving” or “habit” and the Midianites were the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son from another season of bad choices. Oddly enough its very rare that one generation’s poor choices do not become a crucible for our life later, but that is another blog topic. Yet now, in order to escape punishment for killing the Egyptian, Moses runs away to Midian, a place of habitual strife. He finds himself face-to-face with… “himself”.

Sounds like God’s intervention…

Running away takes Moses to a burning bush… with a broken heart.  Moses became a stranger in a strange land, separated from his home and family… and he needed a new identity. It took many years after this incident for Moses to be ready to serve God. The good news is that Moses did trust God (Heb. 11:27) and leave Midian. Moses found the God who transforms our identity!

We must recognize the God who transforms us as quickly as possible and allow His priorities to shape our life choices. If not, we may find ourselves visiting the land of strife. Leaving Midian can only happen when we have felt the crushing reality of God’s intervention in our character. Yet it must happen if we expect God to use us, bless us, or prosper us.

Character transformation is the defining reality of what makes a leader attractive to those who follow.

When I find myself on edge, offended or bitter toward others, there is a good chance that I am hanging out in “Midian, the land of strife”. There are spiritual realities that effect my thought life, choices and behavior patterns. God takes us into places that test us and show us what resides within our hearts. He does this for our good, as His way of chastening His children.

God chastens those whom He loves and accepts! (Heb 12:4-11)

The Christian attitude toward anger and strife should be consistent with God’s heart. There is just no room for angry outbursts or strife ridden behavior in the processing of Christian relationships. We should call it sin and repent of it or we give place to confusion. Like Moses, we could wind up in the land of Midian until it gets burned out of us.

Here is what the Bible says: (Ps. 37:8)(Prov. 19:19)(Prov. 27:4)(Eccl. 7:9)(Gal. 5:19-20)(Eph. 4:31).

Living in Midian is like living next door to a volcano that only explodes once every couple of months. I believe many folks live in Midian, a land cursed by a spirit of strife and although the erruptions only occur every few months; life is lived in confusion and fear, waiting for when and how destructive the next outburst will be. This must not be our legacy, because it is most certainly not our destiny.

Getting out of Midian is as easy as recognizing the sinful behavior and repenting of it. Ask the Holy Spirit to deliver, then begin to rest upon the Truth that God is faithful to meet you in Midian with the power to transform your heart.

The Heart of Conflict

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk. 16:14-15)

Don’t you hate it when you see a little “pharisee” in yourself? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could simply renounce old habits and selfish behavior and respond to conflict in a gracious and constructive way? Let’s face it, as conflict arises peace is stolen and replaced by a spirit of strife! It’s not an easy task – staying clear of conflict. In order to break free and stay free, we need to understand why we react to conflict the way we do.

Its an Issue of the Heart!

Jesus provides us with clear guidance on this issue!

During His earthly ministry, a young man approached and asked Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute with his brother. “Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Lk. 12:13-15).

Recognize the Traps:

This passage reveals a common human pattern. When faced with conflict, be on guard against all kinds of greed. Greed lives on the inside of us! We tend to focus passionately on what our opponent has done wrong or should do to make things right. In contrast, God always calls us to focus on what is going on in our own hearts when we are at odds with others. Why? Because our heart is the wellspring of all our thoughts, words, and actions, and therefore the source of our conflicts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19).

The Heart’s Central Role in Conflict:

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (Jms. 4:1-3)

Conflicts arise from unmet desires in the heart – greed! When we feel we cannot be satisfied unless we have something we want or think we need, then that desire turns into a demand called greed. If someone fails to meet that desire – we judge, condemn and quarrel. We fight to get our way. Conflict arises when desires grow into demands and we judge and fight with those who get in our way.

But the Heart has Power:

Love, honor & trust… these are words of worship! These are the words that overcome conflict when they are positioned perfectly in the heart of a fervent believer. Jesus calls us to love God, honor God, and trust God… and God Alone! (Mt. 22:37)(Lk. 12:4-5)(Jn. 14:1) Worship is a powerful tool to overcoming conflict… its an attitude of the heart!

Anytime we cherish, fear, or trust in something more than God, to make us happy; it is the worship of false gods… “idolatry”.

I know it sounds harsh, but greed is idolatry and it has levels of influence. It often goes unrecognized until we are knee deep into a quarrel. The quarrel itself is just a symptom of a deeper issue. That’s when we find ourselves wondering, “how did we even get into that mess!” Well, something was sitting in the heart waiting to be defended.

But, when our focus is on worship – rejoicing in Christ, walking in gentleness and prayerfully considering everything that gets in our way; then the believer has a greater platform of self-control. Greed and idolatry are diffused of their control and the heart is guarded by the peace of God that goes beyond our understanding (Phil. 4:4-7).

Delight Yourself in God!

Find your greatest joy in thinking about your loving Heavenly Father, meditating on His works, talking to others about Him, praising Him, and giving Him thanks for all that He has done. Delight yourself in Jesus and look into His eyes by faith, consistently and longing for His mercies to become fresh every morning. Wait on the Holy Spirit and listen before you speak… there might be a divine appointment in that moment of hesitation. Consider these powerful promises as spiritual keys to avoiding conflict.

  • “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4)
  • “My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long.” (Ps. 71:8)
  • “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18)
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