Hello, friends! Yep, I’m a day late. The Monday holiday threw me off for sure. I keep having to remind myself what day of the week it is. Ugh.
Today let’s talk about something really fun: fighting! We’re talking about what the Bible often refers to as “quarreling”, but what we could also call arguing, fighting, or bickering. It seems as humans we have an almost boundless capacity for arguing and fighting with others. If you’ve ever watched a group a children, you know exactly what I mean. It is amazing how they can find a fight when there is absolutely nothing to fight over. As grown-ups, though, we’re not really that much better. Part of the problem is that there’s often some small grain of truth or importance to what we fight about. I’ve noticed this lately as I’ve browsed some pregnancy and child-raising forums online. There’s a constant current of bickering going on about everything: formula vs. breastfeeding, cloth vs. disposable diapers, where your baby should sleep, whether or not to circumcise, how terrible your mother-in-law is, what heinous thing your husband has just done, even how to spell your baby’s name. These women (all of us women, really, if we’re being honest) can find a way to stir up trouble about nearly anything. And it’s not just in their responses to each other on the forum; I see it in their tales of woe about husbands and siblings and in-laws. We hormonal pregnant ladies are not the only ones guilty of doing it. Just read the comments after a news story about anything even remotely political or religious in nature. Sometimes I’m afraid the little avatar icons are going to start slapping each other on my computer monitor, the arguments get so heated. Like I said earlier, this can be so tempting because many of these things are intensely personal and we hold very strong opinions and beliefs about the issues, major or minor.
But then again, we as humans also seem to take perverse pleasure in argumentation and discord. If not, how would so many reality shows get such high ratings? I know I’ve been guilty of getting sucked into so-called “train-wreck” shows. And what about a huge majority of romantic comedies? Their plot lines and dialogue often thrive on arguments, conflict, and bickering. It’s almost a cultural imperative to be argumentative. I’ve known quite a few people who will start an argument just for their own entertainment, even if they don’t actually disagree with others. As a collective, we’re trained to think that arguing and fighting is a) funny, b) healthy, and c) unavoidable. But that’s just not the truth. Before we look at what the Bible does have to say about quarrelling, let me make one thing clear. Quarrelling is not the same thing as an honest confrontation. There are times when it will be important, even critical, to confront someone about a serious moral or personal offense. The Bible is pretty clear about that. But even in those situations, an argumentative or quarrelsome tone is never the right path to take.
Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about being a quarreler. We’ll break it down into three main ideas:
- It is not wise to start a quarrel (or to join one).
- Proverbs 16:28 A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
- Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
- Proverbs 17:14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
- Proverbs 20:3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
- Proverbs 26:17 Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.
- 2 Timothy 2:23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels
- God doesn’t want His people to be quarrelsome.
- Proverbs 17:19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.
- 1 Corinthians 3:3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
- 2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful
- To end a quarrel, take away the fuel.
How do we put this truth to use in our daily lives? We can remember these principles when we are tempted to start or join an argument. We can remember that it is no use to argue with a quarrelsome person, no matter how strongly we feel that we are in the right on a certain issue. We can be careful about what we let into our minds (and into the minds of our children) regarding arguing and fighting by being thoughtful about the types of movies and TV shows we watch. We can even take the extra step and do what we can to extinguish a quarrel. Will it be easy? No, because it is part of our nature to argue and fight. But I truly believe that this is an area where developing self-control will bring an abundance of peace both with others and within yourself.
Wishing you a fight-free week!