Thursday, March 3, 2011


“Do not quarrel on the journey” (Gen. 45:24). Joseph admonished his brothers with these words as they departed from Egypt for Canaan. He knew something about their nature. They had a propensity for angry disputes--that’s what the word “quarrel” means.

Joseph’s counsel to his brothers is good counsel for us all. A similar admonition is found in Phil. 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” God has likewise spoken to us—“Do not quarrel on the journey.”

We are prone to do it. The two year old doesn’t have to be taught to fight over toys. The kids in the back seat on a long trip are prone to quarrel over insignificant matters. We, as humans, don’t need to be taught to quarrel—it is in our Adamic DNA. Cain murdered his brother Abel--mankind has been quarreling ever since.

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2). The fountainhead of quarrels is our lusts. The lust of the flesh (to do), the lust of the eyes (to have), and the boastful pride of life (to be) give rise to many quarrel causing concerns. To do, to have, to be—these desires lie at the heart of all quarrels. The flesh demands satisfaction of these desires, whatever the cost—even if it leads to angry disputes and destruction of relationships.

And the flesh will do anything to get want it wants. “The deeds of the flesh are…enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying…“ (Gal. 5:20-21). Such sins are a recipe for spiritual disaster in a life, in a marriage, or in a church.

God has saved us, in part, to rescue us from ourselves. He has so worked through His Son to reconcile us to Himself and to one another (Eph. 2:16). He has indwelt us with His Spirit such that we may “through love, serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). He is at work to transform us from our old selfish and demanding ways, into the selfless and giving nature of Christ. In Christ, relationships can and do work. The servant-minded believer, the loving marriage, the love-filled church all testify to the power of Christ to save and transform.

Joseph’s brothers didn’t have any reason to quarrel on the journey. He had sent them on their way with “ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance” (Gen. 45:23). They were well provided for. Not only that, their brother was the Prime Minister of Egypt. “The best of the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:20) had been promised to them.

Likewise the believer in Christ has been blessed beyond measure with all that is needful for the journey of life. He has “granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Rom. 8:32 likewise assures us: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Why argue over crumbs that fall from the table if you have been served a bounteous feast? In the person of Christ Himself we have “unfathomable riches” (Eph. 3:8). Why quarrel then over pennies?

Mary Estabrook, now with Jesus in heaven, once shared with me how she had served in WW2 as a nurse and witnessed many unspeakable horrors. That experience changed her henceforth—as a mother she forbade her children from quarreling with each other. In so doing she left behind a wonderful legacy. You have the freedom to quarrel now, with others, if you choose. Your joy (in the journey) and your testimony (along the way) will, of course, be diminished. But one day the journey will end and it will end in a place where all quarreling will cease. What a glorious place that will be! Let’s not quarrel on the journey—we need to learn to get along--we’re going to be together for a long time!

Pastor Jerry

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