When Division Comes – Six Steps in the Aftermath

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Division haunts God’s people everywhere they turn. Whether rooted in personalities or doctrine, sin or just selfishness, division regularly rears its head both in individual congregations and the brotherhood as a whole. Sometimes division comes because we allow spiritual ignorance and weakness to go unchecked for too long. Sometimes division comes because we allow strong personalities far too much sway. Sometimes division comes because of poor judgment and hurt feelings. Sometimes division comes because sin and error prevent any other outcome. But whatever the cause, we must learn what to do when division comes. While the reason for division dictates certain behavior, other principles transcend the reason underlying the division in order to reestablish unity wherever possible. When Israel divided following Rehoboam’s foolish decision to follow the advice of his young contemporaries, he immediately prepared to fight the northern tribes to regain control over the whole kingdom (2 Chr. 11:1). However, the LORD had another plan, and what followed demonstrated its wisdom.

  1. After division has occurred, we must know when to stop fighting (2 Chr. 11:2-4). We often expend all our energy trying to regain ground, save face, or support lost causes that would serve a better purpose if focused more positively. This does not mean that we ignore the reality of division, but it does mean that we stop trying to fight a battle already lost.
  2. After any division, we should build up what still remains (2 Chr. 11:5-12). We should consider what problems led to the division and strengthen those areas, but we should also look to the future and consider issues that lie on the horizon lest we be well-prepared for yesterday’s battle only to be unprepared for the rest of the war.
  3. In the process we must also take a stand for truth. Just as the priests and the Levites stood with Rehoboam against the division, we must resolve to stand up whenever required and stand with those who stand with God (2 Chr. 11:13).
  4. It is not enough for us to have opposed division originally if we do not follow that with a commitment to the Lord’s will in the aftermath. And that will require the willingness to make sacrifices (2 Chr. 11:14-15). The Levites gave up their possessions and the means of their livelihood because of the error that followed division—an important consideration, since the error followed the division rather than spawned it.
  5. Division is no excuse to forge an identity apart from God’s will. Thus, we must be willing to leave to distance ourselves from error whenever necessary (2 Chr. 11:16). There will always be the temptation to hold on against all hope, but few people realize the damage they do spending all their energy fighting problems around them instead of growing spiritually.
  6. Most of all, after division we should seek out those wanting to do what is right (2 Chr. 11:17). Division can lead to a divisive mindset if we do not immediately combat it. Unity should be our desire always (Eph. 4:1-3), and we should continue to reach out and work for it based upon truth (Eph. 4:4-6) instead of letting past hurt define our present and future too.
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