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Wisdom, Peace, & Conflict


Blog title card; topic is what the Bible says about addressing conflict
Wisdom's Peace

The world is full of conflict. There is always a negative comment to respond to or an unpleasant situation to confront. But while Christians should stand for truth, we should also not love conflict. James 4:17 says that “the wisdom that is from above is first peaceable.” As we pursue wisdom—something we ought to spend the rest of our lives doing—we should pay special attention to how a wise person handles potential strife. For this, turn with me to Proverbs 17, a chapter I have entitled Wisdom’s Peace.


Valuing Peace

Proverbs 17 begins by measuring the importance of peace. Verse 1 says, “better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” The verse is saying two related things: unnecessary strife is the enemy; and knowing when to shut one’s mouth is a mark of wisdom. Because peace is valuable, we do not need to tell our spouse or friend everything we think or feel. If saying what is in your mind will create unnecessary strife, it would be wise for you to protect the peace by remaining quiet. Often, it’s our pride that interrupts peace. We think that we must be heard! Instead, you must be quiet. Verse 1 teaches us that peace is valuable, but pride is detrimental.


Loving Peace


Proverbs 17 says that our love for others is the proper motivation for preserving peace in our relationships. According to verse 9, “he that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” If you’re married, you probably know your spouse is flawed; you married a sinner. Your friends are sinful people. Your children are also sinful. Verse 9 says that if you love them, “you cover a transgression.” Love does not remind them of their sin or advertise and highlight any wickedness to others. Love does not constantly pick at them. Why? If you love someone, you love peace with him. If you’re constantly criticizing her about her sinful habits, you could upset the peace of that relationship in an irreparable way. Constantly criticizing those you should love indicates that you don’t trust the Holy Spirit to do His job in their life. Beware of constantly “repeating a matter” (v. 9); it may end up separating friendships with those you love very dearly. According to the New Testament, “above all things” we are to “have fervent charity”, or love, among ourselves; “for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).


Valuing Conflict


Though peace is very important, conflict is also sometimes necessary. This is the other side of the coin in relationships. There are times when the right thing to do is to interrupt the temporary peace of a relationship to address a growing problem that threatens the long-term health of that relationship. We should overlook many things, yet there are times where reproof is necessary. Sometimes an issue needs to be raised, and a wise person must say something.


Verse 10 explains the value of conflict: “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” To reprove is to chide or rebuke. A wise person understands that being rebuked is very valuable. He knows when to rebuke someone, but he also knows the value of receiving a rebuke. Occasionally, peace may have to be interrupted, but when handled with wisdom reproof can be formative and therefore very valuable.


Loving Conflict


Though wise people recognize conflict is necessary, they do not love it. Proverbs 17:19 says that a person who “loveth strife” also “loveth transgression.” Some people love strife. They love the adrenaline rush of arguing, and they thrive on drama. They love to display that they’re right and someone else is wrong. This attitude is not biblical. Though a godly person recognizes that conflict is biblically necessary, he does not enjoy rebuking another. Godly people will speak reproof, but will wish they didn’t have to. They do it not because they love strife, but because they love the person. When wisdom introduces conflict, it is always for the good of others.


Cultivate wisdom by valuing peace. Remember that sometimes there is value in conflict, but there’s a right way to love through conflict. A general rule of thumb is to speak only the words that are necessary. Proverbs 17:27 says, “He that hath knowledge spareth his words.” Verse 28 says that “even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”


God gave us two ears but only one mouth so we would listen more and say less. If you follow this God-given design, you will experience wisdom’s peace.

 

The above article was written by James C. Johnson. He is the pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at strengthforlife461@gmail.com.


Every Tuesday, SFL publishes relevant Bible-based content. Check back next Tuesday to read the next SFL article.

 

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