Avoiding Division

Open Your Bible

James 4:1-12, James 5:7-11, Galatians 5:13-15, Mark 9:42-50, Zechariah 7:9-10

“I guess what I’m saying is that, while I see your points, I respectfully disagree. And that’s ok. [wink face].”

Would you believe me if I said that was a text message I received from a fellow believer on October 30, 2020? 

On this particular Friday, my dear friend had asked me to suss out my thoughts on some political hot topics. To say I felt apprehensive as questions flew and the telltale ellipses bobbed on my screen is an understatement.

Genuine discussion is rare in our culture, even, or sometimes especially so, in Christian community. So I was nervous to risk a friendship. It often seems that animosity rules the day more than brotherly affection, and social media comments reveal more “bit[ing] and devour[ing]” (Galatians 5:15) than “faithful love and compassion” (Zechariah 7:9).

At the end of the day, we did not agree with each other’s conclusions. Yet, we both agreed that we respected each other’s heart and love for Jesus as displayed through our lives and not our votes. The following week we made plans to go out for dinner; our friendship had survived, and though disagreement existed, division did not rule the day. 

James 4 shows us how this seeming contradiction is possible: the majority of the chapter is spent on orienting ourselves in a posture of humility, not towards others, but towards God! See, if we hold a correct view of our individual relationship to God, it will change how we interact with one another. 

“Submit to God,” James tells us in verse 7; “draw near to God” (James 4:8); “humble yourselves before the Lord” (v.10)—all of these actions lay the foundation for this culminating, simple instruction shared in verse 11: “Don’t criticize one another, brothers and sisters.” We cannot be successful in this pursuit apart from submission to God. James goes on in chapter 5 to remind us that if our focus is where it should be, it becomes much more difficult to complain about others.

If we live in submission to the Spirit with a genuine awareness of His presence, we will not  be prone to complain about one another. Our hearts will be changed. 

James closes chapter 4 with a searing inquiry: “Who are you to judge your neighbor?” (v.12). To judge or criticize another, we must assume an awful lot about our own knowledge; but, remember, it is God alone who can “save” and “destroy” (v.12). 

Be encouraged—God “gives grace to the humble” (v.6). Grace to uplift and not to criticize; in doing so, we show the world a better way, one of “faithful love and compassion” (Zechariah 7:9).

(62) Comments

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62 thoughts on "Avoiding Division"

  1. Mari V says:

    Praying for you Victoria E. And I agree with you your first and foremost priority is your baby. Could it be possible that there will be future opportunities at a later time? I always try to tell myself is this only for a season. I will be praying for God‘s will in your decision.

  2. Victoria E says:

    Dear sisters. What a convicting reading today. I fail all the time at not judging, I judge myself most! Can I please ask for prayer for a work situation? I am considering volunteering in a clinic but I am concerned about putting our unborn baby who we struggled to conceive at risk of covid. I am a doctor but I work in research primarily which I do remotely now. I don’t want to pass up this opportunity but I feel my first job is to protect him. Thank you for praying.

  3. Mari V says:

    ❤️ this Angie. I too, got a late start as I work at a school and off today. I was very encouraged by your comment today.

  4. Mari V says:

    God morning my sweet SRT sisters!! I am off today for the rest of the week! My heart is filled with joy and contentment! I love how God works and gives us exactly what we need at just the right moment. This was a beautiful and profound devotional this morning. Exactly what I needed. Life at work has been a little challenging (as I’ve mentioned the last few days) but just as I was discussing with my son this morning I will not retaliate, I will not talk back. I stood there and listened to a fellow staff member who was frustrated with me and all my flesh wanted to lash back, but I didn’t……. I didn’t because I don’t want to misrepresent Christ. So I took it. And I responded by letting her know I would do as she’s asking of me. Trust me that was hard and I was hurt. BUT that’s OK. I will be OK. because of Jesus, and only because of Jesus nothing of me, I want to make sure I represent HIM right. An ambassador for Christ.

  5. Dorothy says:

    At my present job, being a private duty in home nurse, I have really had to learn to humble myself. The family I work for have complete opposite political views as I do. Many a time I’ve had to “bite my tongue” about something they said. But God, I will continue to do this and care for their daughter because I enjoy what I’m doing.
    Have a blessed and wonderful day sisters.

  6. Crystal Mazzuca says:

    Praying for you! We went though that exact same thing last year – Senior pastor left, then another. There is hope, there will be will be healing.

  7. AZ Walker says:

    Jumping on the bandwagon this morning – Me too me too me too! Suddenly, wham I get impatient over work situations – say things I should not – act in ways I should not – and then feel so sorry and ashamed. Please add me to the prayer list with Mari, Lexi, BetsyAnn and others here praying for our work situations. Let’s trust and stay hopeful. (My situation is I work for a federal contractor co and HR is still reviewing my exemption request.) Please also pray with me for my stepmom in the hospital with dehydration and kidneys not functioning well and my Dad who needs to travel alone now (3 hr drive) to help an elderly aunt (parents planned to help her out of rehab and home today) Also praying for my nephew Brandon who is still making bad decisions and homeless but his son baby James is doing well with foster mom and judge ruled birth mom still cannot have him due to her bad choices. Thank you so much for praying and blessings to all this Thanksgiving.

  8. Erin VanderMeide says:

    “13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. – Galatians 5:13-15” These verses really struck me as I live in the northwest and we are devouring each other up here and really throughout our nation.