17 ¶ He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
When I was young my Dad warned me not to get in between two fighting animals. He told me to stay out of other people’s fights. This Proverb tells us to stay out of a fight that is none of our business. As Matthew Henry pointed out, if we are not to be hasty to get into a fight on our own account we most certainly shouldn’t be meddling in someone else’s business.
Proverbs 25:8 ¶ Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.
Moses thought he was defending his people when he interfered but he didn’t get the result he probably expected (Exodus 2:11-15) and went ahead of God’s plan by forty years. Joash’s death on the field of battle was due to a deliberate seizing of the dog’s ears (2 Chronicles 35:20-24).
Another thing that’s pointed out by the commentators is that sticking your nose in someone else’s strife is like grabbing a dog by the ears because once you’ve gone that far you’re in deep trouble because he’s going to bite you whether you let go or not. Ruckman points out that if you let go you get bit and if you hold on you’re not free to do anything else.
How often have you been bitten by sticking your nose in a family dispute that was none of your affair? What about within the church? You thought you’d offer to be the mediator but instead were viewed as taking one side or the other and attacked as well and had a hard time extricating yourself from the mess. Its unfortunate for the many dead young men and women and children that they didn’t but our own government would have been wiser in the past to have heeded this advice and to have not gotten into some issues between others that were not our business as a people. But, as many historians have pointed out, war increases a government’s power over its own people and lessens their freedom at home, so it is in the nature of a modern nation-state, whenever possible, to get into someone else’s fight if they can’t conjure up their own.
In the church we are to try to avoid this kind of self imposed disaster and if we had the following attitude most strife just wouldn't happen.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
This is one of those admonitions for Christians that we like to overlook because it’s not pleasing to the flesh. Mind your own business.