I. STRIFE IS A GROWTH. It is as when one letteth out water; first it is the trickling of a few drops, then a tiny rill, then a stream, etc. So with strife; first it is a disturbing thought; then it becomes a warm or a hot feeling; then it utters itself in a strong, provoking word which leads to an energetic resentment and response; then it swells into a decided, antagonistic action; then it grows into a course of opposition, and becomes a feud, a contention, a war.
II. THE GROWTH OF STRIFE IS A CALAMITY.
1. It is the source of untold and incalculable misery to many hearts.
2. It betrays several souls into feelings and into actions which are distinctly wrong and sinful.
3. It presents a moral spectacle which is grievous in the sight of Christ, the Lord of love.
4. It rends in twain that which should be united in one strong and happy circle - the home, the family connection, the Church, the society, the nation.
5. It arrests the progress which would otherwise be made in wisdom and in worth; for it causes numbers of men to expend on bitter controversy and contention the energy and ingenuity they would otherwise expend on rendering service and doing good.
III. OUR DUTY, OUR WISDOM, IS TO ARREST IT AT ITS BEGINNING. You cannot extinguish the conflagration, but you can stamp out the spark; you cannot stop the flow of the river, but you can dam the rill with the palm of your hand. You cannot heal a great schism, but you can appease a personal dispute; or, what is better, you can recall the offensive word you have yourself spoken; or, what is better still, you can repress the rising thought, you can call in to your aid other thoughts which calm and soothe the soul; you can remember him who "bore such contradiction of sinners against himself," who "as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth," and you can maintain a magnanimous silence. When this is no longer possible, because the first inciting word has been uttered and resented, then let there be an earnest and determined effort to quell all heat in your own heart, and to pacify the one whose anger has been aroused. "Blessed are the peacemakers," etc. (see also Matthew 5:25; Romans 12:18). - C.
He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.
(H. Alford, B. D.)
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