Having 35 years of experience in the ministry has taught me to never underestimate how trite people can be and the trivial matters over which they are willing to take their last stand.
Threatenings and ultimatums is too often the course Christians take when they fail to have their way. Many allow their self-will and words said in haste to drive them over the proverbial cliff. Some, failing to count the cost of their words and actions, “fall on their own sword” sharpened by an angry tongue and bitter spirit.
Solomon gives some wise advice for handling and settling disputes in today’s proverbs.
Proverbs 25:8-10 – “Go not forth hastily [in haste] to strive[plead; quarrel; dispute], lest thou know not what to do in the end [outcome; last] thereof, when thy neighbor [companion; friend] hath put thee to shame [humiliated]. 9 Debate [plead; make a charge] thy cause [dispute; argument; controversy] with thy neighbour himself; and discover [reveal; uncover; expose] not a secret [don’t break a confidence] to another: 10 Lest he that heareth [hears; listens; publishes] it put thee to shame [make a reproach; expose], and thine infamy [slander; evil report; defamation] turn not away [public shame returns].”
In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord taught His disciples a parallel principle to Solomon’s proverbs.
Matthew 5:25 – “Agree with thine adversary quickly [make an effort to seek peace and come to an agreement], whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary [your accuser] deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.”
Regarding disputes and offenses with a fellow Christian, the Lord encouraged humility and honesty as the path to peace and reconciliation.
Matthew 18:15 – “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
We would be well served if, before we escalate a petty difference into a quarrel, we stopped and asked ourselves, “Is this hill worth dying on? Is winning this argument worth sacrificing my marriage, friendship or career?”