Speaking the Truth in Love

Every Fool Will Be Quarreling

My older sister Sue and I were in high school at the same time. One afternoon she shared something learned in sociology class. The teacher had said that the most foolish kind of argument was the one in which both parties repeatedly contradicted each other: Yes, it is. No, it isn’t.

Secretly, I agreed with the teacher, but the temptation to have a little fun was irresistible. I said, “That’s not the most foolish kind of argument.” Sue said, “Yes, it is.” I said, “No, it isn’t.”

For children, quarreling seems to be one of life’s sweetest pleasures. But sensible adults think otherwise. The Bible says that “it is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling” (Prov. 20:3). But how do we avoid being entangled in foolish arguments? Maybe these practical suggestions will help:

Be Quiet. Refrain from sharing your thoughts and feelings with a quarrelsome person. A fool needs your opinion as a launching pad for an argument. Don’t oblige him. When he is around, keep your thoughts to yourself.

Take No Offense. A quarrelsome person will say irritating things just to start a fire. But it may be in your power to quench the blaze before it ever flames up: “The prudent ignores an insult” (Prov. 12:16). If you have never put this biblical teaching into practice, you will be surprised by the peace it will bring.

Walk Away. Conflict is healthy and natural. It reveals needs and feelings and can lead to resolution. But a quarrel goes in circles – or worse. It digs a deeper and deeper hole. If an argument degenerates into a quarrel, walk away. If the relationship is one you value, offer to resume the conversation when everyone is calm and ready to listen.

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