Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 13, 1957
NUMBER 7, PAGE 10-11b

"Let There Be No Strife" - No. 1

Asa M. Plyler, Jasper, Alabama

The above heading is found in Genesis 13:8. The statement was made by the ancient sage, Abraham, whose name has come down to us with great renown. There has never been a time since God made the earth, and hung the sun and the moon out in the sky, that the maker of all the earth wanted his people to be at strife with one another. The most effective and soul-damning work the devil ever did has been to set the people of God against one another — thereby destroying every high and noble purpose that could bring joy and happiness to the race of men.

When Abraham and Lot turned their backs to the land of Egypt, with all its wealth and prosperity, they made their way back to the land of the hill country of Canaan, taking their possessions with them. There in the valley between Bethel and Hai, they pitched their camp around the altar they had formerly built to worship God. The hand of prosperity rested gently upon them, their herds soon multiplied, until room could hardly be found for all of their possessions.

Now there has never been a peaceful spot on all the earth but that Satan has cast his evil eye upon it, and waited his chances and bided his time until he could intercept and turn joy and happiness into a hell of turmoil and shame. Abraham, the friend of God and the father of the faithful, foresaw Satan's evil purpose, and proposed to Lot a plan that would thwart this wicked plan and retain friendship and happiness among them. He said: "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren." This simple message has brought a boon of joy to the people of God for thousands of years as they have contemplated the wisdom of it and the dividends of its efforts. Happiness is the reward of sacrifice and fair play ever since man has populated the earth. Strife is the very antithesis of everything that an all-wise Creator planned for the righteous upon this earth.

Today there is strife upon the earth — and, worst of all, that strife if found among the people of God. To name the instigators and point out the projectors we have no intention; but against the facts of its existence and the havoc that it plays with the church of our Lord, these lines are dedicated.

We point not to the divisions that exist among the general professors of religion in the land, but to our own people, those who wear no other name but the name of the Lord. A universal and true axiom is that "for every effect there must be a cause." Now what is the cause for the strife so manifest in religious journalism, over the radio, and from some pulpits of my brethren? From my point of view, it begins with a lack of humility, a failure to recognize our own frailty, our dependence upon God for his guidance and wisdom in all our undertakings. Out of this state of stagnation and ruin there seems to arise a vaporous fog of disrespect for God's final and ultimate authority in his work. The lack of brotherly love is in evidence throughout the land, and a failure to recognize that "we be brethren." If that meant anything in the days of Abraham, it ought to mean something today. Do we recognize that God is our common father? If so, there ought to be a deep and abiding feeling for every son and daughter of his.

Do these passages mean anything to us? "And every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him." (I John 5:1.) "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." (I John4:7.) "He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." (I John 4:8.) "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (I John 4:11.) "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." (I John 4:12.) "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (I John 3:16-17.) "Honor all men; love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." (I Peter 2:7.) "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." (I Peter 1:22.)

These are only a few of the many passages in which God demands of us that we must love one another. And with all my heart I believe that if we will come back to the Bible teaching on this vital point, the greater part of our troubles will vanish like the morning dew. Hatred is of the devil; and the only way that the people of God can get along is through love for one another. If we love one another, it will be much easier to overlook our weaknesses.

But strife, contention, conflict, and discord are the very opposite of what God wants in his children. "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory." (Phil. 2:3.) "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they gender strife. (II Tim. 2:23.) "Let us walk honestly, as in the day, tot in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envyings." (Rom. 13:17.)

Solomon tells us, "As coals are to burning coals, and wood to a fire, so is a contentious person to kindle strife." (Prov. 26:21.) Our Lord wants his people to be happy while they live upon the earth, and that happiness cannot be had so long as strife is abroad in the land.

Let no one misunderstand this to be a challenge or a plea to cast aside every restraint, and compromise with error or sin. No, in no wise; the truth of God must be upheld by his servants, and we must never give up truth or any principle of truth in order to have peace. Peace built upon error cannot be real peace. Still, no man has the right to contend even for the truth except that he do it in all earnestness and according to Bible principles. But to me it seems that we often set ourselves for or against certain things, and allow ourselves to be convinced that these things are matters of faith plainly and clearly revealed, when, as a matter of fact, they are matters of opinion and expediency. Let us remember that opinions are personal property, not to be urged or pushed on to others; and nothing can ever be expedient except that it first be lawful.

The very fact that a thing is lawful and expedient is proof that there is some other way of doing that thing. The exact doing of a certain thing might be considered expedient at one time and the same thing in the same way might be inexpedient at another time.

But more on this in our next article.