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Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the October edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Alexander Strauch’s recent book If You Bite & Devour One Another. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

If You Bite & Devour One Another
Biblical Principles for Handling Conflict

Author: Alexander Strauch

Publisher: Lewis & Roth Publishers, 2011, 192 pages; also available in Kindle format

ISBN: 978-0936083315

Summary

Alexander Strauch has served for forty years at Littleton Bible Church, Littleton, CO. He is a gifted Bible teacher, popular speaker and author of at least nine other books that have to do with the body life of believers. If you Bite & Devour One Another focuses fully on human conflict within churches and organizations. A free study guide is available online (www.lewisandroth.org) for individual or group study.

 Best chapter

Chapter 1 – Act in the Spirit

“No group of people should be as well-equipped to handle conflict as Bible-believing Christians. The Bible provides detailed instructions for handling conflict constructively. Christ provides the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey God’s Word and to control our sinful passions.” (Kindle location 143)

“When conflict arises, our attitudes and behaviors should reflect our new life in Christ given by the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We are to display the fruit of the Spirit and not the works of the flesh. We are to walk in step with the Spirit’s leading. We are to be Spirit-controlled and not flesh-controlled or out of control.” (Kindle location 145)

“The one thing Christian believers are not to do when engaged in conflict is to revert back to our old, pre-conversion, flesh-driven ways of behavior.” (Kindle location 204)

“Nothing but the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to enable believers to resist the desires of the flesh and to live the Christlike life.” (Kindle location 219)

“Lack of self-control is a major problem during conflict, but the Holy Spirit provides power over the fleshly excesses generated by the passions of anger, jealousy, hatred, and the spirit of revenge.” (Kindle location 233)

Best quotes

“Human conflict is one of the dreadful consequences of sin entering the world. Because of sin, all human relationships are a struggle and are prone to conflict. We can trace the unrelenting plague of human conflict through the endless wars and divisions of human history, and sadly, church history as well.” (Kindle location 26)

“How are Christians to work together in unity until Jesus comes again? The answer to this question is foundational to our understanding of how to deal with conflict according to biblical principles. Jesus taught the unique principles of humility, servanthood, forgiveness, and love, and he promised to send a helper to enable his disciples to live by his teaching.” (Kindle location 46)

“Paul was a tireless defender of the truth of the gospel, yet he wrote more about love and conflict than any other New Testament writer. Love and truth are not enemies, nor does one need to be sacrificed for the other. Love, in fact, ‘rejoices with the truth’ (1 Cor. 13:6).” (Kindle location 356)

“But when we neglect to pray, we leave God out of our conflicts and operate independently of his guidance and power.” (Kindle location 430)

“Obedience to Jesus’ ‘new commandment’ to love one another as he loved us (John 13:34-35) is the best protection against much senseless conflict. The problem is, while it is easy to talk about love, it is hard to practice what we preach when emotionally charged, anger-inducing conflict arises.” (Kindle location 514)

“Selfish ambition, particularly on the part of those in leadership, has plagued the world throughout human history. It is one of five ‘global giants’ – hunger, sickness, illiteracy, spiritual emptiness, and selfish leadership – that one Christian philanthropist has identified as essential to deal with in order to help the poor.” (Kindle location 583)

“Selfish ambition is not a fruit of the Spirit; it is a work of the flesh. It undermines people who are trying to work together in unity. It motivates people to be demanding and controlling and to brush aside anyone who disagrees with them. Only those who have the spirit of Christlike humility can handle positions of power and authority without oppressing others or serving and exalting self.” (Kindle location 602)

“‘Making an idol out of doctrinal accuracy, ministry success, or moral rectitude,’ writes Timothy Keller, ‘leads to constant internal conflict, arrogance and self-righteousness, and oppression of those whose views differ.'” (Kindle location 610)

“Conceit produces vain boasting and feelings of superiority that hinder conflict resolution. Conceit causes us to be defensive, self-righteous, and stubborn. It blinds us to our own errors and glaring faults. It keeps us from listening to wise correction or rebuke, and from learning and changing.” (Kindle location 620)

“Our natural tendency is to sin when we experience anger. We let anger fester and consume us, or we seek to avenge ourselves by any means. We let our anger grow uncontrolled, which plays right into the devil’s hands. Victory over such temptation is possible only by walking in step with the leading of the Holy Spirit and the instructions of God’s Word.” (Kindle location 762)

“Conflict ignites fiery passions within the human soul. It can make the head throb, the blood boil, and the adrenaline rush. What is worse, conflict can turn the mouth into a weapon of mass destruction. Our words can become the primary weapon with which we ‘bite and devour one another’ and damage relationships in the family of God. So no matter what the conflict, words matter – and they matter a lot.” (Kindle location 874)

“When facing conflict, determine beforehand to always speak the truth. Truthfulness is the foundation of all edifying speech. ‘Truthful speech’ is the characteristic of all true ‘servants of God’ and God-honoring ‘ministry’ (2 Cor. 6:3-4, 7). Conflict can be managed in a Christ-honoring way if we choose to use wholesome words of truth and grace.” (Kindle location 1025)

“The World Trade Center in New York City took six long years to build, but it was destroyed in only 90 minutes on September 11, 2001. In a similar way, a local church that has taken a lifetime to build can be devastated in a few months by a sinful firestorm of complaining and quarreling.” (Kindle location 1181)

“Without forgiveness, we cannot put our conflicts behind us and live together in harmony. So we must be prepared to graciously and repeatedly forgive those who repent after sinning against us. And when we offend someone in the body of Christ, we must be willing to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness.” (Kindle location 1427)

“Christlike peacemakers, then, humbly put the good of others ahead of themselves. They deal with difficult people with a gentle voice and hand. They act in love by denying themselves in order to solve problems and unite God’s people. They deal patiently with people, bearing with them in love.” (Kindle location 1654)

“We can’t eliminate controversy over important biblical doctrines, but we can, by the Spirit’s help, control how we dispute with one another. We can determine that our attitudes and behaviors will emulate ‘the wisdom from above,’ which is, ‘first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere’ (James 3:17).” (Kindle location 2029)

Best illustration

“Even today, some primitive, tribal groups practice a custom called ‘spearing.’ The custom requires the tribe of a person who is wounded or killed by someone from another tribe to spear someone from the offending tribe in revenge. To not exact revenge for harm done to one’s own tribal member would bring shame; to forgive would be considered weakness. These unwritten laws perpetuate endless tribal warfare and senseless killing. Christians in conflict today don’t literally throw spears at each other, but we do plenty of ‘spearing’ with cutting words and angry looks.” (Kindle location 387)

“While visiting a friend’s farm, I noticed that some of the chickens running around were missing feathers. Some even had open sores on their skin. When I asked the reason for this, the farmer casually replied, ‘Oh, they like to peck at one another.’ That’s exactly the way some people treat one another: They like to peck at others! They love to find fault, criticize, complain, and condemn. In fact, anyone who has served in a church has encountered petty complainers and fault-finding critics who act more like pecking chickens than Spirit-filled believers.” (Kindle location 1070)

Best idea

“To gain victory over a cutting tongue, eliminate from your daily vocabulary all unnecessary terms of disparagement – all words that belittle, mock, insult, or demean God’s people. The ‘battle for vocal holiness,’ states Sinclair Ferguson, ‘is a long-running one, and it needs to be waged incessantly, daily, hourly.’ Should you catch yourself using any derogatory words, do not rationalize such unholy talk but confess it as sin that grieves the Spirit of God. Remember, the mouth simply expresses what is in the heart (Luke 6:45), and sin is at the root of wrong speaking.” (Kindle location 965)

Best take away

“When people, whether they are believers or nonbelievers, abuse or persecute us, we are to respond with the most positive, proactive display of love possible. Jesus does not call us to be passive martyrs who merely grin and bear it; we are to actively ‘bless’ those who wrong us and not ‘curse’ them (Rom. 12:14; 1 Peter 3:9)! Our Lord wants us to pray that God would have mercy on and change the hearts of those who persecute and abuse us. Such prayer is a key element in dealing with conflict in a God-honoring way.” (Kindle location 425)

Recommendation

The reviewer first received a copy of this book at the potentially contentious Bridging the Divide contextualization gathering this past June. It was a fitting spiritual reminder to all in attendance, considering the potentially explosive context of the discussion. If you or your organization are experiencing insurmountable conflict between fellow workers, this book is highly recommended as a guide in bringing resolution to that situation.

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