As Paul neared the end of his second inspired letter to the Corinthians, he expressed worry at what he might find if he was to visit them in person…

 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

2 Corinthians 12:20

The Apostle is worried that he is going to arrive at Corinth and be forced to discipline them for their sinfulness. He doesn’t want to arrive under those circumstances, so he tells them to straighten up and remove the ungodly contaminants that threaten their spiritual welfare.

What are those contaminants? He lists eight, which are broken down for you below…

Debates = petty, frivolous, childish arguments. These are disagreements over things not worth arguing about.

Envyings = “I want what you have” (as opposed to jealousy which is “I don’t want you to have what’s mine”).

Wraths = Fuming anger over things we ought to let go and not make a big deal over.

Strifes = Divisions, factions, causing splits.

Backbitings = Secret slander

Whisperings = Gossiping

Swellings = arrogance, haughtiness

Tumults = disorder, chaos, disunity

Those are eight (and many more could be said) sins that can split a congregation, cripple a soul and divide a brotherhood.

Notice they flow, one into the other: People argue over pointless things, and sides are taken. When sides are taken one side always envies what the other has, while the other side puffs out its chest, feeling superior. Any minor disagreement leads to angry words, slander and gossip meant to tear the other side down. The feeling of disunity becomes palpable, visitors flee the bad vibes and the church eventually splits, doing a disservice to the King.

What’s the solution? The Apostle already provided it in his first inspired letter…

Let all your things be done with charity.

1 Corinthians 16:14

Love conquers all!

True, sacrificial–agape–love lets petty disagreements go without a fight. True agape love means being happy when others are blessed while also being content with what you have. It means showing love to a person, not only to their face but behind their back too. It means being humble and putting others before self and it means striving, in all things, to maintain fellowship, unity, harmony and peace with brethren. We are all God’s children, and we break our Father’s heart when we fight with one another.

Let love prevail, and the splits will mend!