We must identify the source and put the ax to the root of the tree. A quarrelsome behavior stems from one root: pride. We think we know better than anyone else, and we’ll make sure we correct everyone, regardless of the relational cost. Our opinion is more important than people.
Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel. (Proverbs 20:3)
We do it all the time. It is rare in a marriage or a family for there to be an absence of quarreling.
No one likes it. It is not productive. Good, respectful conversations can be helpful, but the heat of a quarrel always leads to anger, disrespect, and an eroding of relationships. It dishonors others and rarely leads to good resolutions.
Some have become world-class arguers. It seems that most conversations lead to a quarrel for them. It can happen to you. It becomes habitual and engrained if you don’t find out to be released from this behavior. It becomes who you are and the way you operate. You will find that people don’t want to talk to you because you have developed a touchy, sensitive spirit, and they know that almost any conversation will not go well.
This is why the writer of Proverbs says, “Any fool will quarrel.” Just think of that. If I’m breaking out and beginning a quarrel, the Bible puts me in the category of a fool, along with millions of other foolish people. I am not counted with the wise.
So how do we remedy this? How do we stop being quarrelsome? How do we move from this immature, foolish behavior?
The Honorable Choice
The root idea of the word in the Hebrew language used in Proverbs 20:3 means to “break out, to start abruptly with intensity, to have an argument with someone.”
The mark of honor is to “keep away from strife.” To rise above this means of communication. To never start an argument. To recognize where a conversation is headed and, for the glory of God and the good of others, quickly choose a different path.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14)
This doesn’t mean simply gritting your teeth or covering your mouth. We must not only learn to walk away from this communication style but also go deeper than a merely humanistic restraint. We must identify the source and put the ax to the root of the tree.
A quarrelsome behavior stems from one root: pride. We think we know better than anyone else, and we’ll make sure we correct everyone, regardless of the relational cost. Our opinion is more important than people.
- I begin quarrels when in my pride …
- I want to show everyone what I know.
- If I feel I must make my point.
- I am driven to prove that I’m right and that others are wrong. (This feeds my ego).
- I want to show my (supposed) superior understanding.
- I am upset that I think someone is not hearing me.
- I feel slighted, misunderstood, and marginalized, and I must prove I’m right.
- I am hurt, and I want to retaliate. I want to make them hurt as I’ve been hurt. (This is called “revenge”)