The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
Have you been in a quarrel with someone…but you can’t remember how it began? A cross (or perceived to be cross) word can start a back-and-forth that just escalates—and suddenly you’re in an argument—maybe not even knowing what it is really about. It’s happened to me and usually I feel silly that something pretty minor escalated (especially when it was with one of my kids…when they were toddlers).
The verse above tells us to “quit before the quarrel breaks out.”
It’s not easy—we all want to prove ourselves “right.” But oftentimes not arguing at all feels even better than proving a point—and it takes less time, too.
I’ve made a point to try to diffuse conflict before it starts (I’m not always successful…it’s my own fault!).
Sometimes it means saying something completely off topic; my favorite is “How ‘bout them Huskers?” (That is especially mood-changing when I say it because those who know me know that I have no idea if the current season is football, volleyball, or basketball…and I have no idea if players in said sports are trying to hit a ball, throw a ball, kick a ball…).
Sometimes it means we agree to disagree…and one of us has to agree not to insist on having the last word in the agreeing-to-disagree.
Sometimes it means nodding respectfully and not saying another word (I think I have scars on my tongue from doing that…but I didn’t argue!)
Sometimes it means saying nothing…but having that pit-in-the-stomach feeling of “He was soooo wrong…”
All this is to say, it’s not easy to avoid an argument (especially when you *know* you are right). But God wouldn’t have given us this instruction if it wasn’t important to Him.
Maybe He commanded us not to quarrel because so many of our arguments are so minor…but cause so much stress, tension and chaos—stress, tension and chaos that takes our attention away from the Him and doing His work.
Maybe it’s because quarrels can hurt—sometimes really hurt—all involved.
Maybe it’s because quarrels just do not show His love—the love He wants us to show to everyone.
Maybe it’s because quarreling is a bad example to kids and to non-Christians, you know, the whole setting-a-good-example thing.
It’s not easy, but it is His command. And the Bible tells us that Jesus experienced temptation, too—but He did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15). The next verse says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.”
So there is my solution for you—when you are tempted to quarrel, draw near to the Lord. Pray that He will guard your tongue…will give you something funny to say…will help you control your words…or even put His hand over your mouth to prevent those words from coming out (even if they would convince the other person that you are right).
I’m also blogging at Home is Where the Mom Is .