Why We’re so Difficult

June 18, 2014 at 10:08 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Proverbs 13:10

Contention is fussing and fighting. It’s squabbling and not getting along. It usually breeds things like gossip and revenge and unforgiveness and pettiness and loss of friendships and a bad testimony and wasting time. It complicates our lives in areas where they should be simple. Instead of helping us to love and serve others, it forces us to try to one-up them, or to show them that we don’t have to put up with something from them, or to manipulate them, or to try to get the last word, or to break off friendships and relationships, and to waste and end opportunities to glorify God in those relationships.

From where does contention come? From pride, of course. The “only” in Proverbs 13:10 can be read in two ways:

(1) Contention only comes by pride in the sense that it doesn’t come from anything else. Pride is the ultimate cause or source of all contention.

(2) “Only” a little bit of pride will bring contention. In other words, the least little influence of pride makes a big stink.

Your friendship is going good, and all of a sudden you perceive yourself as being slighted. “So what?” you ask. Then you think, “What do I mean ‘so what?’ This is me we’re talking about. I don’t have to take that. Nobody does that to me.” And – boom! – you’ve got contention where there used to be peace and blessings and love and friendship.

Here is the contrast (which is a common device in Proverbs): “But…” with the well-advised there is wisdom – meaning that it’s smart to not be contentious. So how do we short-circuit the pride that brings it? By being well-advised. By taking advice from the Bible (the best) or from someone who is well-versed (pun intended) in Biblical knowledge (second best).

This also works in a two-fold way:

(1) The Bible will destroy your pride.

(2) The mere act of seeking advice is humbling and therefore pride-crippling, because it means admitting you need help from someone else.

When we get that stinging feeling which comes from our perception that someone has hurt our pride, we have options. We can do what we were taught to do in the past, but this is usually a mistake. We can do whatever just seems best in our own minds, but this is almost always a bad idea. We can just do what everyone else (the world) is doing, but that is really the worst thing we could do. Or we can be teachable and humble and get ourselves well-advised before we decide how we’re going to think, act, and treat that other person when they go off-script and don’t treat us how we think we deserve to be treated.

Let’s be wise, not contentious. Let’s be humble, not proud.

(By the way, I can’t technically prove it, but I personally believe that James 3:13 – 4:10 is a New Testament exposition of Proverbs 13:10.)


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