Contentions – it’s big, bad, and it can very easily get ugly. It looks appealing for a moment then WHAM – you are in an argument with someone and the relationship gets broken. The family gets divided. The Church gets hurt. Contentions – it’s like strife, stirring the harmony pot, looking for trouble – its debating, arguing, backbiting, disputing, and relationship-breaking, and God doesn’t like it one bit.
I think it’s really interesting to note that something so strong, so foreboding, and so barring like contentions, can be settled simply by casting lots. That’s it! It says something about the importance of the matter, doesn’t it? When I read these verses this morning it reminded me of a picture I saw a week ago:
Chances are, I probably won’t even remember the disagreement in a year’s time, let alone will it matter! Paul wrote to the Ephesians, submit one to another. In Philippians he wrote, ‘be like-minded, having the same spirit, the same love, being one in mind and spirit. Let nothing be done in selfish ambition and vain conceit, but in humility consider one above himself. Each of you should look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.’ That means little sisters submitting to big brothers, and big sisters submitting to little brothers. It means considering how important what I want really is – eternally speaking – and considering the preciousness of others. It means not arguing and getting angry at each other. It means admitting when I was wrong, and they were actually… right. It means watching each other’s backs. It means when I see something good I could do for another person, I do it. Basically, it means loving your neighbour as yourself and doing to them what you would have them do to you.
The Epistles are jam-packed full of verses about living in harmony with one another. Romans 12:10b – Outdo one another in showing honour! Living God’s way means giving up the contentions – giving up the ‘snarkiness’ towards each other and choosing to think the same mind as each other. The issues that turn into contentions don’t need to. Things often aren’t as big a problem as we make them out to be. God loves it when we avoid a contention and put others before our own wants. ‘As far as possible live at peace with one another’… and when you’ve gone as far as you can, try a casting lots method like paper-scissors-rock and still live at peace with one another!