Choose Not to Be Quarrelsome
One More Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
The instructions in Ephesians 4:3 are clear: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.” This is easier said (or read) than done, because people can be very difficult to deal with. And let’s face it, some people are just not as worldly wise or as smart as we are. That’s understandable. After all, the Bible says not many of us highly intelligent and worldly wise are called. (1 Corinthians 1:26)
However, on closer examination, could we highly intelligent and worldly wise people be part of the problem? Is our zeal to prove we are always right hindering our relationship with others and even God? How important is it to always be right?
For example, let’s say you are driving down the road and another car is coming towards you. Both of you are in the same lane. You have a right to be in that lane and the other car doesn’t. However, the other car has no intention of changing lanes. Neither do you. In fact, you are adamant about your right to be there. So a head on collision occurs and both drivers die. Yes, you were right. You might say you were “dead right!” But who cares? You’re dead.
Must we always be “right at any price,” leaving a trail of hurt and sorrow in our wake? Are we overly aggressive and quarrelsome? Do we win the argument, but lose the friend? If so, we might be in danger of being “dead right!”
Or are we peacemakers? The Bible doesn’t say, “Blessed are the belligerent;” it says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Perhaps qualities like humility, gentleness, patience, kindness, and meekness might help us get along better with others, more than a “my way or the highway” attitude.
There may be times when we should stand up, stand up for Jesus, but if we are honest with ourselves, most of our conflicts are over trivial matters. The Bible tells us to avoid foolish and ignorant disputes because they generate strife. A servant of the Lord should not quarrel. They should be gentle to all, exhibiting patience and humility. (2 Timothy 2:23-26) God’s servants should be kind to everyone.
What is our goal in dealing with others? Do we want to help them or change them? Do we want to change their point of view? Do we want to promote our thoughts and ideas? Or do we want to pray about it, and open ourselves up to the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
Consider this… It’s not our job to change people. Only God can change them. Only God can grant them repentance. Only God can make them receptive to His truth. Our job is to love them. We need to be asking God to change us, not the other guy.
Disagreements are inevitable – even in the Christian arena. However, Christians should seek to glorify God, not to be offensive or fight. (1 Corinthians 10:31-32) Christians who don’t have a relationship with Christ are more prone to conflicts with others. It seems a shame to fight with those who stand and serve with us at the foot of the cross. Paul and Barnabas had a difference of opinion on how the work should be done, so they separated in a friendly and amicable way. They preserved the unity and peace in the church, even though each had a different serving style. Our way is not the only right way to do something.
Quarrelsome people do nothing to further the gospel. We are here to glorify God, not to prove we are right.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
Pray this prayer of David: “Lord, keep me from presumptuous sins.” (Psalm 19:13) Don’t “presume” that you are right and the other guy is wrong.
Don’t argue. Once you resort to arguing or raising your voice, you have lost your credibility. Remember that it takes two to make a quarrel, but only one to end it.
There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion. That’s why we must keep perspective. Having a cold is not the same as having cancer. Learn to overlook minor complaints and move on.
Try to change yourself, not the other guy. Matthew 7:3-5 tells us to get the beam out of our own eye instead of looking for the speck of dust in someone else’s.
Learn this phrase: you might be right. Use it often. Say, “You may be right…” Even though you might be thinking, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” still say, “You might be right.” Another good phrase to use even more often is: I’ll have to give this some thought and prayer.