The Porcupine Story
by: Mike Stokes
The story goes like this: Two porcupines were attempting to huddled together on a cold night to stay warm. So, as they moved closer together their quills pricked one another, eventually they abandoned the whole idea. Separate and exposed they begin to shiver and decided to ease closer again. Each jabbed and irritated the other, so they parted again. This went on and on with the same results, they needed one another but they kept needling each other.
Sadly, the Christian family is like that; we need each other but we keep getting on one another’s nerves. What is it that cause adults, much less Christians, to act like this? To answer, I will first look at a biblical analysis of the problem in James chapter four, then, examine a real life example in Philippians chapter four.
James 4: 1A, “From whence comes wars and fighting among you?” James describes disharmony among Christians in his day using two descriptive words; “Wars” and “Fightings” which means quarreling and conflicts, words which refer to widespread and small skirmishes, or local fights and personal battles. The body of Christ has always been a battleground of full scale wars and petty scuffles. Great wars of doctrine still split churches and denominations; small scale skirmishes tear at the body through power struggles, arguments, envy, lawsuits, unkind comments, and silent standoffs. These clashes wound and maim peoples’ spirit. Why do we treat one another like this? James bluntly answers, in 4:1B, “Come they not hense, even of your lust that war in your members?” The origin of quarrels is sometimes hard to discern, James touches a sour spot when he says it’s because of your own pleasure. On the surface that doesn’t sound all that evil or hostile. The Greek word is (Hedonism), it refers to desire without restraint, a passion to get what we want, regardless. So, this is the source of disharmony.
Next, how far will we go to get what we want? In verse two, James uses an accumulation of verbs, which is his style, to answer. He says if someone gets in our way, we fight; if we need others on our side, we enlist; if it takes sharp cutting words, we kill, not literally but killing looks, slander, and gossip. This is a crime that will never cause incarceration but the impact is equally devastating. Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The greatest evil or good is in the words we speak. Next time we will look at a real life example of a conflict, through the key hole size of three verses in Philippians chapter four.