relationship breakdown

Pride Divides
The book of Job teaches us more about Leviathan. In the early chapters, Satan seeks God's permission to take Job's wealth, health and family, and ultimately causes him desperate pain. Job is so devastated by his losses that he wishes for "those who are ready to arouse Leviathan" to curse the day he was born (Job 3:8). He's referring to enchanters who worshiped the crocodile spirit named Leviathan, summoning curses and chaos. Thousands of years later, Leviathan is still a presence in the literature and practices of Satanism.

Around the time Job speaks this unwise lament, his friends show up to comfort him. They find him sitting on a pile of ashes, covered with boils. Stunned by the sight, Job's friends weep and remain speechless for days.

When they find the courage to speak, their pious words backfire and create a rift. But the problem was not with Job's comforters alone.

In his pain, Job had become self-righteous. Defending himself and overplaying his own righteousness, he denies that there is any sin in his life at all. Then he brazenly demands a hearing with God! He loses his spiritual perspective as well as his connection with those who came to show him love.

Near the end of the story, Job gets his hearing, but God doesn't coddle or justify him. Instead, He rebukes Job: "'Where were you when I laid out the foundations of the earth?'" (38:4); "'Would you condemn Me so that you can be justified?'" (40:8). The trait God is highlighting in Job by these questions is one that often keeps people from being healed and restored after loss: self-righteousness. "I didn't do anything to deserve this, God! It's You and Your people who are wrong!" Our pride creates a wedge in our relationship with God and His people, just as it did with Job.

Job 41 contains God's closing argument. He outlines Leviathan's frightening arrogance and destructive nature. Leviathan's scales are his pride (v. 15). His heart is as hard as stone (v. 24). He is king over all the children of pride (v. 34). God is saying: "Job, look at yourself. Pride and pain are ruling you and twisting your perception. Like Leviathan, you've become twisted, hardened and irreconcilable." God's words shook Job. He saw the problem in himself, and the recognition of it broke him. In the next chapter, Job repents of his pride and is restored based on his willingness to reconcile with his friends: "And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10).

Humility Restores
When pain and loss pierce us, wounds can settle in our souls. The enemy plays off these wounds and creates separations in our families, churches and networks. He twists words, distorts intentions and prompts us to react out of pain instead of love. The result is always a train wreck.

Pride is the problem. When we justify ourselves, pride hardens our hearts and deceives us (see 1 John 1:8). If we buy into the lie that we have no sin, the twisting begins and division takes hold before we know what's happening.

Leviathan can be defeated only if we walk in humility. When we let the Lord reveal our pride, we can turn from it and be free. Humility creates an atmosphere around our lives that is toxic to separation.

Leviathan can't breathe the oxygen of grace. If we refuse pride, even when we are hurt, the spirit of separation will be starved out of our lives. Here's an example of what I mean:

To Gary it seemed to come from nowhere. He had made what he thought was an innocent remark to Jennifer at their family's Thanksgiving dinner. But Jennifer had exploded and run from the table angry and crying.

Pressures had been building in their marriage, and Gary was becoming uneasy. It seemed that everything he said lately was misunderstood. When he tried to reason with Jennifer, she became defiant.

Her reaction tempted Gary to respond in anger and self-defense. However, he asked his friends and family at the table to pray with him instead. After a few minutes, they all felt a release.

When Gary went to Jennifer she was crying, but the hardness was gone. "I'm sorry, Gary. I've been having such angry thoughts. I've been offended, and it has made me miserable. But something lifted off me just now. I feel peaceful."

Gary let out a sigh—part praise, part relief—as he realized he had his wife back. If you are involved in a relational conflict, God may be speaking to you about pride, as He did to Job. Repent and pray for those with whom you struggle.

Don't feed separation with anger and self-righteousness; starve it out. Let the Lord restore your losses and give you a double-portion reward.

If losing a friendship was one of the worst experiences of my life, seeing it restored was one of the greatest. It feels good to be reconciled and to enjoy laughing with my friend again. God has healed our hearts, and we are free from the grip of the spirit of separation.

Since that relational train wreck happened in my life, I've learned a lot about separation. I have seen that pride born of hurt is fertile soil for Leviathan's seeds. I have also come to understand that we can protect ourselves from division with the clothing of humility (see 1 Pet. 5:5). Best of all, I've learned that God will restore when we get our hearts in order.

So don't allow the enemy to bring division into your life. Be aware of his tactics, walk in humility and trust God to order your relationships aright.

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