Why We Have Strife in Our Churches
Pastor Jack Hyles
Why do Christian people (or for that matter, any people) have strife between themselves? The answer plainly and simply is, "unfulfilled appetites." We had a desire or appetite to receive something which we did not receive. We had a desire or an appetite to be treated in a certain way, and the desired treatment never came. In other words, we did not get the thing or the treatment that we wanted. Of course, the secret to avoiding the strife caused by these unfulfilled appetites is to have sanctified appetites and to keep our wants and desires within the limits of our ability to have.
A good definition of riches would be as follows: "the balancing of wants and possessions." So, there are two ways to be rich. One is being able to afford what one wants, and the other is wanting only what one can afford. The secret is the balancing of the wants and the possessions. I am rich if I can get what I want. I am rich if I want what I have.
Most of us will never be able to get what an unrestrained appetite would want us to have, but all of us can balance the equation and become rich by asking God to sanctify our appetites and our wants. Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." The average casual reader of the Bible could misunderstand this passage. We could mistakenly think that God is telling us that if we want a Rolls Royce car, we can have it; if we want a half million dollar house, we can have it; if we want a $25,000 diamond ring, we can have it. This application is totally contrary to the teaching of the Scripture. In the first place, if we delight ourselves in the Lord, our desires can be sanctified and we can grow to want what we have. God is not saying here that He will increase what we have to fulfill the lust of the carnal nature. He is saying that if we delight ourselves in Him, our desires will become equal with our possessions.
Some interpret the Scripture to mean that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us what we want. I rather prefer to believe that God is saying if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us what TO want, and when He is saying He will give us our desires, I feel that He is saying that He will give us our appetites as well as the fulfillment of our appetites. It may be in that some cases He will increase our possessions to equal our desires. It may be that other cases He will lower our desires to equal our possessions. Whichever it is, it is simply the balancing of the equation, which in the end makes one rich, for he has what he wants and wants what he has.
This is the same thing that God is telling us in John 15:7, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." We emphasize the part of that verse which tells us to ask what we want and we can get it. God is emphasizing the part that says, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you." The word "abide" implies "to live." If we live in and for and through Christ and His Word lives in and through us, our appetites become sanctified and God can give us carte blanche and power of attorney to ask what we will because He trusts what we WILL ask. We cannot be so trusted unless we abide in Him and His words abide in us.
Romans 8:28 would certainly shed some light on this truth: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Once again God is reminding us that spiritual people may feel free to ask what they want because God can trust their wants. We like to think that if we love God and are in His will, everything will work out for our good, and this certainly is true. However, what we think of as being good changes when we love God and are living in His will. The very same thing that was going to happen to us becomes for our good if we love Him and if we are in His will.
Let's suppose that a Christian is not living in the will of God and is not filled with love for Christ. The events that come his way do not work for his good. However, take those same events and put them in his path under different conditions, those conditions being that he now loves God and is in the will of God, and they will work for his good. Once again, the difference is in the appetite. When a person delights himself in the Lord as in Psalm 37:4, and abides in Christ and God's words abide in him, and he loves God and lives in the will of God, he then has sanctified appetites that make it possible for his desires and possessions to be equal, which is in the final analysis the definition of riches.
The wise Christian will not allow himself to possess appetites that cannot be filled. It is a blessed truth that if he meets the conditions of the aforementioned Scriptures, his appetites will be inside the will of God; and any appetite that is inside the will of God will be filled by God, for He promises to give us the desires of our hearts if those desires have been purified and sanctified.
This leads us to another thought, and that is, WE WANT WHAT WE GIVE.
1. We want the same type love that we give. Even our Lord came to Peter and asked, "Lovest thou Me?" The word here for love is the word that is used for God's love. It is a deep, abiding love. Peter answered, "Thou knowest that I love Thee," but Peter's word for love was the love that we would call something like fondness. Jesus was saying, "Peter, do you deeply love Me?" and Peter was saying, "Lord, Thou knowest that I am fond of Thee." Jesus, in using the word for deep love, was actually saying, "Peter, do you love Me like I love you?" Jesus can make such a request because His love is perfect, but for us to want to be loved like we love can create an unfulfilled appetite. Our appetite should be to love deeply rather than to be loved deeply.
Years ago when our son, David, was Youth Director at First Baptist Church, an interesting thing happened. It was commencement night for Hammond Baptist High School. After commencement had ended, I had an appointment with one of our ladies. While I was counseling with her, there was a knock on my door. I went to the door and David was at the door crying uncontrollably and asking for me to speak with him for a few moments. I told him that I had an appointment, and he said, "Dad, I've got to see you right now! It's an emergency! It can't wait!"
I asked the little lady with whom I was counseling if she would wait, and I stepped across the hallway into my secretary's office so Dave and I could be alone. I said, "What's the trouble, Doc?"
He said, "Dad, it just dawned on me that those young people that just graduated are no longer in our youth department. I have lost them!" (I think this was the first group that David had lost since being Youth Director.) "I love them, Dad! It just dawned on me that I don't have them any more, and Dad, I just had to get with somebody who could love me like I love them. That's why, Dad, I had to be with you."
I said, "You found him, Doc," and I hugged him and we shared some tender moments together.
Now the truth is that Dave's appetite was filled, but suppose that he had had that appetite hundreds of miles from his dad. He would have had a tough evening, because there would have been no fulfillment of his appetite.
The wise Christian will let his appetite be to love. That can always be fulfilled because it is within the grasp of his will. Don't misunderstand this. I am not saying that we should not want to be loved, but I am saying we should not want to be loved exactly like we love, because no one loves exactly alike, which is why God made us all different. Each of us has a unique way of loving Christ that no one else has, and since each love, though given by God and with God as its source, is different, it is impossible for us to be loved exactly like we love. So, if someone doesn't love us like we want to be loved, and if we want to be loved like we love, it is easy to be upset.
There are few things that hurt as much as wanting to be loved like we love and not being loved that way. This hurt is increased the more deeply one loves, because the more refined one's love is, the harder it is to find reciprocation. This also makes it easier to be lonely What I am saying is that the Christian should find the presence of his joy in loving, and then perhaps he can find the degree of that joy in being loved. In other words, I have joy simply because I love you. Now if you return that love, it increases my JOY, but if you do not, my joy is still present.
So whether it be possessions or treatment, there is an atmosphere conducive to strife if I want something and do not receive it. You did not treat me the way I wanted you to treat me. You did not say what I wanted you to say. You did not do what I wanted you to do. You did not give me what I wanted you to give me. You did not express to me what I wanted you to express to me. In other words, you did not fulfill my appetites.
2. We want the same type expressions of love that we give. There are certain ways that each of us says, "I love you," and most of us want love to be expressed the same way we express love. We want to get what we give. For example, men and women do not express love the same way. Many marriages have to endure strife because the husband wants the wife to love him the same way that he loves her and to express it the same way. Now to be sure, the wise wife will try to find the expressions of her love that her husband would desire, but the basic fact is that men and women do not express their love to each other in the same way. The man may just want a quick hug and kiss. The woman may want soft music and atmosphere. The man calls the woman unaffectionate, and the woman calls the man unromantic. This is because the appetites have conformed to each one's own expressions of love. A certain expression of love is wanted and though the love may be expressed, since it is not what was wanted, it often causes strife.
In a sense, this is almost what could be called mental homosexuality. For example, a man may want a woman's love, but he may want it to be mentally the same love that he gives her. In other words, he wants her to love him emotionally and mentally like a man, but she is not a man! She is a woman, and she must love him emotionally and mentally as a woman would love him. So, instead of wanting his love returned, it is much better for him simply to want whatever type love that God has given her for him to be expressed in her own way, not in his!
This same thing could be true between the young and the old. This is one reason that teenagers and adults have a difficult time understanding each other. The parent kisses the teenager. The teenager seems indifferent, which causes the parent to be displeased and causes strife. The wise parent will let the teenager love like the teenager loves. Teenagers cannot return adult love to adults. They can only give teenage love. The wise parent will accept it with rejoicing and gratitude in whatever manner of expression the teenager uses.
3. We want the same type logic that we give. We want others to logic like we logic, and an appetite is created for us to receive that kind of logic. Since all people do not logic alike, that appetite is often unsatisfied, and strife is a result! A man may want a woman to logic like he does, while a woman may want a man to logic like she does. An adult may want a teenager to logic as an adult, and the teenager may want the adult to logic like a teenager. When such appetites are created or allowed to exist, they are often unfulfilled and cause strife. In other words, I want you to see things exactly as I see them. When you do not see things exactly as I see them, my appetite is unfulfilled!
Recently I was preaching in another state. I told the people that I would appreciate it if they would help me to be heard by helping to prevent any unnecessary interruptions in the service. I was to be there for only two nights, and certainly I would not want, for example, a crying baby to limit the effectiveness of my message. I wanted to help the people! After I had preached a few minutes, a baby began to cry (at least I thought it was a baby) in the back of the auditorium. The people in that section were disturbed and unable to follow the message. I stopped the service and asked whoever had the baby to take it to the nursery Someone got up and left, and I thought that they had granted my request. The disturbance was stopped and we had a wonderful service. After the service, a lady came to talk to me who was very disturbed! She told me that she was the one who had the child who misbehaved, but that the child was not a baby! The "child" was an afflicted teenager, and the lady was very disturbed that I had asked her to remove her daughter. I went out to the car where the daughter and the rest of the family were waiting for the lady, and I saw the child. It was a tragic thing! Though she was in her late teen years, her little body was deformed, and it was a heartbreak to see.
It was obvious that the lady was wanting me to apologize for asking her to take the child out of the service when she was causing a disturbance. I certainly expressed my compassion, my sympathy and my love, but I could not tell her that I would not do the same thing again. As a preacher, I had a message to deliver! It was to me the most important thing in the world! As a mother, she had a child that she felt had been mistreated, and that was the most important thing to her! It would have been totally impossible for us to logic the same way. Because of that, I was not offended in the least. I had no appetite for her to logic as I did. Because of that, I had nothing but love toward her. On the other hand, the dear lady wanted me to logic as she did. She had an appetite for me to do so, and it was impossible for me to satisfy this appetite. Of course, her family shared her feelings, and they had ill will toward me. The reason for this ill will was that they had a desire for me to logic as they did. I had no ill will toward them because I did not have a desire for them to see it my way. I didn't blame them at all for seeing it their way. Consequently, she had a want that could not be balanced with a possession. I had no such want.
Now let us suppose for a moment that I had the same appetite that she had had. Suppose that I just could not understand it because she couldn't see it my way. Why couldn't she understand that a preacher's message is so important! Why couldn't she understand because that I had traveled 700 miles to bring two messages, I certainly wanted to be heard and must be heard! Why couldn't she understand that I was not being selfish in the matter! I was wanting to help people, and there were hundreds of people there who needed to be helped, and the disturbance caused by her child was preventing them from receiving that help!
If I had insisted in my own mind that our logic be reconciled, I would have been as disturbed with her as she was with me. This is where strife originates. "Why can't you see it my way?" "I just don't understand you." "You're not making sense." These are statements that represent the cause of strife. I think the way we put it usually is that we just don't see it eye to eye. If we don't see eye to eye, and if both of us insist that we see eye to eye, there is strife. On the other hand, if both of us could express our opinions, not desiring a reconciling of logic, we can disagree and not have strife.
This is what causes strife in our churches. Far too many of us have appetites that warrant certain treatment. When that treatment does not come, there is strife. The same thing causes strife at home, at work and at play. On the other hand, if our appetite is to love others, to express that love to others, and to help others, then that appetite can be fulfilled.
Do not want to be treated in a certain way; rather, want to treat the other person properly Do not want expressions of gratitude; rather, want to express gratitude. Do not want folks to appreciate you; just want to appreciate them. Most of our problems in our churches would be solved if our desires, wants and appetites were purified and sanctified!
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