I have discovered a principle in my six decades of living that to this day baffles me: Starting an argument is the easiest thing to do, and ending it is the most difficult. So when I saw the proverb above in the new Amplified translation, I decided to take some time to study it in-depth.
What is strife? It can be a bitter quarrel or conflict, discord, competition, or rivalry. And in the eyes of God, it’s a sin. So God says that our behavior is honorable when we “keep away from strife.” I love how the Amplified Bible tells us one way to avoid strife. “By handling situations with thoughtful foresight.”
What is “thoughtful foresight”? It’s “the act of looking to and thinking about the future.” In other words, it’s having “regard for the consequences,” as the second half of Proverbs 20:3 states. It’s asking ourselves in that split second that we have before we respond to a tense situation, “Where might this argument lead me or us? Do I really want to go down that road? What if there’s no turning back?”
It helps to remember that Satan wants to make a big deal out of everything, even the smallest differences between us and others. He knows that if he can get us into strife with our loved ones, neighbors, or coworkers, he can create havoc in our lives and in our relationships. We can neutralize his sinister maneuvers by refusing to take the bait when he tries to use others to steal our peace. One thing that helps me tremendously is to refuse to have a “me-against-them” mindset. The devil is adversarial, and when we see others as our bitter adversaries, we are playing right into his evil hands, and we will suffer for it.
The Bible says, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (James 3:16 KJV) Think about that for a moment, and let it sink in. As followers of Christ, you and I must take strife seriously, and avoid it like the plague, if we are going to be the world-changers that He has called us to be. When we make the decision to be peacemakers instead of troublemakers, we will have all the help of heaven on our side!
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to “keep away from strife,” as You have called me to. Work in my heart so that I can be a peacemaker and a world-changer for Christ. Help me to cooperate with You and Your Spirit to develop the fruit of patience in me. Don’t let me live my life “without regard for the consequences” of my hasty words and actions. Thank You that as I do my best to obey You in this area, You will bless me and use me in new and exciting ways for Your glory!- J. M. Farro
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