Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The hill you die on

3 It's a mark of good character to avert quarrels,
   but fools love to pick fights. 
(Proverbs 20:3)

Ever run across an individual that just seems contrary in all they do?  There is just no pleasing them - they find fault with everything and love to quarrel over the silliest of things.  There is a word for these type of individuals - fools!  Solomon makes it quite plain that a fool loves to pick a fight.  It is a mark of honor (of good character) to avoid a fight.  I am not implying that we actually live in a state of existence where we go through life without ever saying a cross word or entering into constructive debate periodically.  Yet, a man or woman of good character knows that insisting on a quarrel is not a sign of wisdom.

It is a good thing to overlook the small things in life.  There is a saying I heard some time ago that has stuck with me:  "Is this the hill you want to die on?"  In other words, is this the "battle" of the will or mind that you want to engage in?  "Small things" lead to the bigger battles when we allow ourselves to dwell upon them.  Angry outbursts and quarrels are a result of not overlooking an offense.  God honors the one who is able to turn away from fighting and to be a peacemaker.

Look at this passage again - it is not that we don't have the opportunity to quarrel, it is that we "avert" that opportunity.  This word carries both the idea of turning away before you enter into the quarrel and to prevent it before it has an opportunity to begin.  This is more than the "counting to ten" thing that some may engage in (not to say that this is bad) - it is the attitude of mind and heart that shows how much you value the other individual.  When we "turn away" or "turn aside" from a quarrel, we are choosing to honor God by not engaging in actions or the sharing of words that will not represent God well.

When we prevent a quarrel, we actually doing what God calls being a peacemaker.  A peacemaker is an intermediary - one who is able to see both sides of the coin.  There is an ability to not judge a situation by face value, but to see that there are always two sides to how a situation can be interpreted (each being valid in the other person's eyes).  

Today, we have a choice - it is to choose wisely the hills that we are willing to die on.  Quarrelsome behavior will soon wear us down, wear upon our relationships, and make us devoid of those strong supports we need in life.  Choose wisely - it is better to be numbered with the wise than with the fools!