“Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here.”
But it is happening, isn’t it? It’s happening in our nations, our communities, our churches, and even in our homes. It’s happening in real time, right before our very eyes, in unimaginable ways. And as human beings, the pitfall that is division is rocking us to our very core.
It’s happening because media has been overrun with opinion, rather than facts; politicians speak half-truths that really are whole lies; and the art of listening has been defaced with reprimanding tongues. It’s happening because mankind is blatantly choosing passion over principle, haughtiness over humility, and the way of ignorance rather than the wisdom from above—wisdom that James describes as “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere.” (James 3:17 ESV)
Now, I ask that you indulge me for just a minute here, please. No, I’m not an English teacher and I know this may seem elementary. But if those are the characteristics of a unifying wisdom that comes from above, and we wish to reflect that very wisdom to those we may minister to, then I think it’s a worthwhile exercise that we examine their opposites. So here goes:
The opposite of pure – corrupt.
The opposite of peaceable – belligerent.
The opposite of gentle – merciless.
The opposite of being open to reason – disregard.
The opposite of full of mercy and good fruits – disdain.
The opposite of impartial – prejudiced.
The opposite of sincere – deceitful.
I don’t know about you, but if I really consider what has just been outlined, it seems that mankind is far, so very far, from responding to each other with wisdom from above. And if humanity is not responding with that wisdom, then we have to be responding with the folly being propagated by our foe.
So let’s be real here. In the midst of all that the past year has unraveled, it’s been real easy to point fingers at elected leaders or political parties or media personalities or the next door neighbor. It’s been easy to get into heated arguments with family and friends, strangers and even a brother or sister in Christ. It’s been really easy to fall into the trap of disgruntlement and spew worldly words that cut, instead of uttering sacred syllables that heal.
Because the enemy knows this –
“Every kingdom divided against itself is doomed to destruction; and a house divided against itself falls.” (Luke 11:17 AMP)
He knows that –
“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” (1 John 2:9 ESV)
He knows that –
“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 ESV)
And he knows that –
“…the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)
That’s the whole point – our enemy doesn’t want us to inherit the kingdom of God. So whether cunning or candid, his goal is not just to divide mankind, but by pitting mankind against one another, to eternally separate us from the promise of Heaven. Indeed, his aim is to divide and conquer.
But we who know Jesus know this: that our enemy has already been defeated.
Yes, we who know Jesus know this – that when we ask God for the unifying wisdom from above that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere, He will give it to us generously.
Yes, we who know Jesus know this – that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV)
Sisters, can I be honest with you? This topic has convicted me. In the past year, I have regrettably added to the narrative of division. Within various groups, I have participated in conversations when really I should have heeded the wise words of Solomon: “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19 NASB)
Lord, may your salvation reach my tongue so that my words seek to unify and free rather than to divide and conquer. In a world brimming with division, God, season my words with grace, propel my actions by love, and render me your wisdom from above.
In the past year globally, there has been political unrest, racial tensions, and, let’s not forget, a pandemic that have all contributed to the divisiveness we see in the world today. Of these, what issue(s) has caused the most division where you serve and how can you help to bring unity into that situation?