3 ¶ It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
Are you one of those poor fools who simply must have the last word in every argument? Do you feel compelled to carry on a bitter debate until everyone flees the field of battle but yourself? In this Proverb, and I have Gill and Henry’s agreement on this, it is an honor for a man, a good man, to end a conflict in which he is engaged, even if he is right. Just drop it. Walk away. It’s the fool who will continue and gnaw and gnash until he feels satisfied that everyone else has been annihilated by his or her impeccable logic.
Proverbs 17:14, Jeremiah 15:10, and Habakkuk 1:3 show that strife and contention are synonyms. Notice how Paul diffuses a potential argument in the very carnal Christian church of Corinth (1Corinthians 11:1-16). After providing an argument justifying the Corinthians concern that a woman should have her head covered in which he brings in concepts about how unnatural it is for a man to have long hair or a woman to have her head shaved he ends the whole debate with a statement saying that if any man wants to argue about it, the other churches don’t even have this conflict going on.
16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
In other words, your custom is fine and there are good, sound arguments for it but it’s not a big deal so we’re not going to make it one. Then he goes into some problems they have which he considers more serious.
More marriages have been dissolved by both parties demanding their “’propers’ or else” than almost anything I can imagine. Two pigheaded, stubborn children do not a good marriage make. You know how you can tell a fool. They keep stirring the pot. They, or the spirit controlling them which isn’t God’s Spirit, really, secretly must love the drama because they can’t seem to get enough of it.
Many of your family and work problems occur because you don’t know when to say “ENOUGH”… to yourself. You keep stewing in your own juices over a situation, imagined slight, or hurt until the stuff boils over. Let me let you in on a secret, o’ foolish meddler who can’t walk away lest they perceive themselves as weak or wrong. Your spouse may have a lot on their mind and be stressed out trying to bring home the bacon, your spouse may be overwhelmed by the unremitting pressure of taking care of the house, the kids, the noise and the mess of those parrots you just had to have (or dogs or cats or iguanas, whatever), your children may not be coordinated enough yet keep from spilling, tripping, or knocking things over, your boss has a business to run and you aren’t the center of his universe, your neighbor may be going through a rough time personally, and the guy who cut you off in traffic may just have been distracted by the same things you are distracted by. Get over it. The world doesn’t revolve around you.
It is an honor for a man to cease from strife, to just drop it, to move on, to try to be a better person. The other day when the high school across the street let out a teenager in one car yelled an obscenity at a teen in another car while waiting at the intersection. I walked to the road and got the mouth’s attention and yelled to him to watch his mouth. He was silent. He didn’t flip me the bird or curse at me. He kept his eyes focused straight ahead, perhaps hoping that the insane, old guy wasn’t going to make a scene. However, I was fuming for hours. This is not seemly or mature for a Christian. I needed God to calm me down and He had my wife do it with her wise words. I needed to realize that I’d made my point and that an unsaved, Hell bound, lost teenage boy is probably too naive and has his conscience too seared by popular music, TV, and movies to even begin to understand that real men shouldn’t talk like that. Sadly, in our culture there is some confusion about the needful differences in behavior between men and dogs. Unfortunately, dogs act better in most cases.
I played the fool, stirring the pot inside me, and feeling bitter at the foolishness of the young man. But, I was the fool.
So, I would suggest to you, let the other person have the last word for once, push away from the computer and go take a walk or read a book, let your wife vent, cut your husband some slack, make your children sit at the table and eat and drink rather than walking around the house, leave earlier to get to work, do your own job and don’t worry about everyone else doing theirs, and if you have to correct someone, just do it and let it drop. Don’t keep stirring the pot. Kicking things and throwing things are not the behaviors of a Christian who has the love of Christ, the joy of God, or the fruit of the Holy Spirit operating in them.
Whenever you can’t seem to let something go, try reading Galatians 5:22-24 over a couple of times. Just read it aloud to yourself. Think on it.