What Kind of People Stir Up Strife?
1. Solomon studied many aspects of life and recorded many of his findings in Proverbs.
2. He studied ants, spiders, birds… and wrote down his observations.
3. He also studied human beings… and recorded his observations as well…
a. Thus, in Proverbs, we have a divinely inspired book on human psychology.
b. There is nothing wrong with psychology… the study of man.
c. While Proverbs is not a book on psychology per se, it does contain a lot of information about the human psyche…
d. What we learn about the human psyche in this book is true.
e. What men write about psychology is to be questioned… realizing that mere men who write on human nature are not writing objectively—but from a fallen, twisted perspective.
4. Let’s look at God’s analysis of the troublemaker… one who stirs up strife. What is he or she like?
Description of the Troublemaker
1. He is characterized by hatred.
a. 10:12 – hatred stirs up strife.
• The troublemaker is often angry and full of hate for one reason or another.
• He may be bitter over some low blow he perceives having been done to him.
• He may have a chip on his shoulder over being slighted… overlooked…
• This hatred could have been brought on by envy, jealousy, slander, insult… any number of events in life.
• When someone has hatred in their heart, look out! They are a time bomb ticking away… ready to explode into trouble.
• There are lots of examples in the Bible of men who hated others… and the trouble that resulted from it: Cain; Esau; Joseph’s brothers; Haman hated Mordecai; Saul hated David; the other presidents hated Daniel…
b. 10:18 – hatred is sometimes hidden under a nice exterior—lying lips.
• Some folks may stir up trouble… and others may have no idea of the hatred that is in their heart… because lying lips cover up the hatred.
• Hatred is a vicious sin. Get rid of it. Confess it. Forsake it. It can be the source of all kinds of trouble being stirred up.
• Don’t let hatred boil up in your heart.
c. 26:24-26 – hatred is sometimes hidden by deceit.
• A hateful man or woman will often have hatred laid up within…
• BUT—his or her words are sweet. You would never know that there are 7 abominations in his heart.
• The only good news is that that deceptive hatred is often discovered.
• But until it is exposed = a LOT of trouble and hurt can be inflicted on many people!
2. He has a big mouth.
a. Prov. 18:6 – fools lips engage in contention.
• This implies that the one who enters into contentions may have a big mouth… his LIPS enter into contention.
• His folly lies in his lips… his big mouth…
b. Prov. 16:27-28 – the lips of this man is like a burning fire…
• One little word from his mouth can set a whole house on fire… a church on fire…
• He uses his mouth to sow strife… (Sowing = spreading the seeds of strife everywhere he goes.)
• He is like Johnny Appleseed—only he is planting trouble wherever he goes.
• We have all come in contact with this kind of person.
• They separate chief friends. By their words… gossip… innuendoes… they drive wedges between people… friends, church members, parents and children, even between spouses!
• The results of their strife can be disastrous for relationships.
3. He is contentious by nature…
a. He digs up evil… (16:27)
• Even after an issue has been laid to rest… buried… he digs it up again…
• He just won’t let an issue die and be buried. He insists on digging up the rotting corpse… and exposing everyone to its stench.
• You want strife to end? Don’t dig it up. Keep it buried… even if you have to eat a little humble pie to do so… even if the big mouth gets the last word… suffer yourself to be defrauded if necessary… just keep it buried.
• Once you dig it up—you start the controversy all over again.
b. 26:20-21 – a contentious man stirs up strife—it is his nature; he loves it.
• A contentious man loves to keep the flames of the fire burning… he just loves a good fight…
• Solomon analyzed the population sample he came in contact with and noted that a certain percentage of men just love to argue… they are contentious by nature… and will do whatever it takes to keep the controversy alive.
• Just like a fire—most controversies among men will die out on their own if no more fuel is added to the flames. But some men—like pyromaniacs—are intent on stoking the fire with more fuel.
4. He loves sin.
a. 17:19 – he who loves transgression loves strife.
b. These two character traits go hand in hand.
c. Over the years, Solomon observed that men who caused trouble and strife seemed to love transgression… they love crossing the line…
d. You have to love sin to love strife—for when you cause strife, you are multiplying sin: your sin… and you drag many others into sin… strife… anger… cursing… slander… division…
e. It is like saying, the one who loves throwing rocks in a lake loves watching the ripple effect of his actions.
5. He is full of anger.
a. 29:22 – an angry man stirs up strife.
• An angry man is one who has no self-control.
• He is not filled with the Spirit—but is filled with anger.
• A furious man ABOUNDS in sin… and trouble.
• 15:18 – a wrathful man stirs up strife.
• The man or woman who cannot or does not control his anger is the source of unlimited trouble…
• You want to rid your home of strife? Keep strife out of the church? The workplace? Keep your heart with all diligence! Be filled with the Spirit… do not let the sun go down upon your wrath!
6. He is proud.
a. 28:25 – he that is of a proud heart stirs up strife.
• If there is pride in the heart… it often manifests itself in strife.
• Pride says, “I want my way.” “I’m right; you’re wrong.”
• Pride says, “Me first.”
• I am not getting the respect I deserve; the position I deserve
• I demand the last word. No one is going to speak to me like that! No one is going to insult me.
• Pride refuses to be humbled… and humility is NEEDED to end strife… to prevent strife…
b. 13:10 – only by pride comes contention
• Every single controversy among men comes about as a result of pride—on one party or both.
• If people are fighting… if there is a controversy… if there is strife… rest assured, somewhere beneath the surface is human pride!
c. Solomon observed troublemakers and noticed that in every single case—they were proud men.
7. Sometimes, troublemakers are drunks… or druggies.
a. 23:29-30 – a drunk causes much contention… they are in a fighting mode.
b. A person who is drunk has no self-control… the evil in his heart is going to come out…
8. The New Testament also describes the troublemaker… the one who sows strife and breeds contention:
a. Jas.4:1 – worldly lusts in men are the cause of strife and contention in the church.
• James asks the question, “Where do wars and controversies come from?”
• His answer: from your lusts… desires.
• What kind of lust? It is not sexual lust.
• Rather, he is speaking of worldly lusts (4:4)
• This is a source of MUCH strife in the local church.
» It was the case in the Exodus—it was a mixed multitude that caused so much strife… not the godly remnant.
» There will always be those who seek to tear down our standards… who seek to introduce worldly music… water down the message… make things lighter… less convicting… more fun… like the world.
» That will always be a source of strife and controversy between them and the godly remnant.
» They will murmur and complain—just like the mixed multitude did in the wilderness.
» The worldly professors constantly cause strife and anguish for the godly remnant.
b. I Cor. 3:3 – carnal men produce strife…
• All of the above indicate that it is the carnal believer who causes strife… one who is not under the control of the Spirit of God, but is under the control of the flesh.
• It is not immaturity, but carnality that results in strife.
• The carnal believer walks like “men”… unsaved men. He behaves no differently.
• Strife is ALWAYS the result of carnality among believers.
c. Jas. 3:14-16 – one influenced by demons stirs up strife.
• James lets us know something else about the troublemakers in the local church—they are influenced by demons!
• Strife in the local church (in God’s program for this age) is often rooted in demonic influence. (not possession—but influence)
• The devil would like nothing more than to ruin God’s work from within.
• Unfortunately, he finds no shortage of volunteers in his service.
• A true believer would not willingly be used of the devil… but they can be… unawares… vessels for the evil master’s use!
• What an awful thought… but one we should be apprised of.
• If God’s goal is peace and unity in the Body of Christ, rest assured that the devil’s plan is disunity and unrest… schism…
Conclusion: The Bible gives us a pretty good insight into the character… the heart and mind of a troublemaker:
1. He is characterized by:
• A big mouth
• Loves sin
• An angry man
• Worldly lusts
• Demonically influenced