“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12 ESV).
Friend to Friend
People called her confident, independent and sure of herself. She was quick to offer her opinion on just about anything, and she refused to lose. While she never actually participated in the debate team at school, people told her she should—because she could win any war of words.
I remember her so well, because she was me.
My sister eventually gave up arguing with me, because she knew I would never quit. I would push my opinion into any situation and voice it until everyone else agreed with me.
And while the world may see assertions like these as strength and even something to be praised, Today’s Truth gives us another perspective, “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12 ESV).
Solomon, the author of Proverbs 26, spent the last 11 verses of this chapter teaching about the tongue and its deadly power. He warned about getting involved in someone else’s situation (Proverbs 26:17) and exposed the destructive nature of liars and gossips (Proverbs 26:18-19, 22-27). Solomon also likened our disagreement and discord to coals that spark the fire of strife (Proverbs 26:21).
If you’re like me, you tend to exclude arguments from what the Bible says about our words. For some reason, it seems easier to treat lies and gossip like serious issues and heed what God says about them. But God’s Word doesn’t exclude arguing lips.
Thousands of years after the words of Proverbs 26 were penned, Paul told Timothy that those who quarrel about words work ruin (2 Timothy 2:14), which is the same thing Solomon says about those who lie (Proverbs 26:28).
The Greek word translated “quarrel about words” in 2 Timothy 2:14 is only used this one time in all of Scripture. It appears like a compound word, combining two Greek words that are translated words and strive. Another way to say it would be to strive about words.
Is there a time to admonish one another and with God’s Word? Yes (Colossians 3:16). Does God want us to strongly encourage and urge each other to follow Him? Absolutely (Hebrews 3:13). But is any of that about me being right and my opinion being heard? Not even a little bit.
In a world that tells us our opinions should be voiced on all matters, all of the time, we have to decide if we are willing to sacrifice being right with our Master in order to be right on the matter.
Our words leave lasting impacts. They can divide (Proverbs 26:21), destroy (Proverbs 26:22) and deceive (Proverbs 26:28); or they can fan into flame God’s wisdom. We can choose words that are pure, peace-loving, gentle, reasonable and compassionate — words that are not self-righteous or self-serving (James 3:17).
I find that when I shift my focus from being right on the matter to right with my Master, I’m more inclined to let God handle things. Instead of speaking, I pray. Instead of forming a fool-proof argument, I listen. Instead of pushing my opinion, I consider the other person’s heart.
The difference in these approaches yields entirely different outcomes. When we hold our opinions as the most important thing, conversations often end in dissension and hurt. But when we yield to God and His Word, He produces peace, restoration and righteousness.
God has changed that girl who once welcomed every opportunity to strive about words. I’ve seen the difference between His Words and mine and experienced how much better it is to let the peace of Christ rule my heart and let the word of Christ dwell within me (Colossians 3:15-16).
So before we speak … or type or post … let’s commit to ask ourselves these questions:
Am I striving to be right and win this war of words? Or am I striving to be right with God and yield to His Word?
Dear God, I want Your Name to be the One people remember. May the words I speak build others up. Let my words draw others nearer to You as I proclaim Your way, not my own.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
In the last time you engaged in an argument with someone what ways were you trying to get your point across? What would you have done or said differently if your focus was on striving to be right with God?
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