“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Proverbs 6:16-19
Reading this numbered list of what the Lord most despises emphasizes our actions that most tarnish his glory and hurt others. Pride, lying, murder, wicked violence all make sense; we would probably write the same. But He ranks up there with these universally repulsive crimes that of sowing discord among brothers. Ouch. Some sins are easier to dismiss because they are committed “by others,” but this one is wily, insidious, and sadly, prevalent in our homes and churches like a contagious disease.
How do we sow discord? “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.” “A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord.” “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Discord begins in our hearts, where insecurity and selfish passions of pride, jealousy, anger, and malice agitate our emotions into words we should restrain. Our sense of superiority, or need to be esteemed, or bitterness over past hurts, or disdain of others, or cattiness at their choices or lifestyles or beliefs, are poisons that taint our attitude and will, rendering us vulnerable to an ugly heart and loose tongue. The less restrained we become, the greater our hardness against others, the more negative our perspective, the more caustic our talk that seeps out in criticisms, mentions of what might be true, suggestions of injustice, judging of motives. Eventually, our habit of internal conflict swells into waves of discord among family members, neighbors, even friends. (James 4:1,11; Proverbs 6:12-14; 16:28)
How do we break free of this ensnaring and destructive habit? Paul taught the Ephesians what we can begin to practice by the Spirit’s power. “Put off your old self, which is corrupt through deceitful desires, and… be renewed in the spirit of your minds. Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Put away falsehood, speak the truth with [your] neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; and give no opportunity to the devil. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, but instead let there be thanksgiving. It is shameful even to speak of the things that [others] do in secret. Be filled with the Spirit.” It is a high and doable calling to work to reverse and heal discord and replace it with blessing. Our efforts benefit the Body and honor our Lord. (Ephesians 4:22-27,31-32; 5:4,12,18)
Father, let me never weary of doing good, even against the tide of discord in this world. May all I do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14; Galatians 6:9)