It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
but every fool will be quarreling. – Proverbs 20:3
One way to avoid strife is to become a hermit. It works but isn’t very practical. Most of us need to go to work and earn a living and interact with the rest of society. Strife seems to be the soup we swim in these days, at least in the United States. We do live in a cultural war even if we don’t want to admit it.
Some want to be Socialists. Others want to be less Socialist than we are now and return to a more free market economy. Some love President Trump. Others are rabid Trump haters. There are powerful and highly charged issues like abortion, illegal immigration, social justice, and racism.
It is difficult to speak freely and not wind up in what may be a heated debate at the grocery store.
But what wisdom do we find in Proverbs? It is an honor for a man (or woman for that matter) to keep aloof from strife. The parallelism indicates that it is the fool who gets caught up in these strife-filled quarrels.
Somehow I have an aversion to being categorized as a fool. How about you?
So, what is the solution for us if we want to be wise rather than a fool?
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: … enmity, strife, … fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 … and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:16-25
The solution is the Holy Spirit. The flesh produces foolish actions. The way to overcome the flesh is to live in step with the Holy Spirit instead of our flesh. See, the flesh produces enmity, strife, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, and divisions. That sounds like most public discourse doesn’t it?
But the Holy Spirit produces gentleness, self-control, and kindness. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is exceedingly practical. Not only does the fullness of the Holy Spirit give us the power to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but it also empowers us to love the folks on the other side of the divide, whatever divide we might be discussing.
I have to say; I do love the Holy Spirit. He is the one who personally produces in us the character of Jesus and applies all that the Father purposed and Jesus purchased. Don’t forget in your prayers to ask the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit afresh each day. It matters.