Ever start something you wish you didn't have to finish? I have - lots of times. The truth is, we all do. If you don't believe me think about the last time you opened your mouth, allowing words to escape which would have been better off not said at all! What happened with just that tiny escape of words? It opened up the floodgates, didn't it? Yep, our words have a way of creating more than just a little "flux" in our lives!
The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts. (Proverbs 17:14 MSG)
Solomon was known as the wisest man in his time. I daresay, even with all the technological advances of this day and age, he probably still would bear that title today. How do you suppose he "learned" all this stuff? Do you think he was "born smart"? If you think that, you are probably a little deluded, because if you study his life, you will see he was pretty much learning this stuff as he went! It is exactly how most of us really gain wisdom. Sure, we ask for it, but we learn it in the trenches.
This little passage really speaks volumes - a quarrel doesn't begin by the volume of words we speak - it begins with the words we allow to be spoken! You have probably heard me say we need to think all we say, but not say all we think. I guess this should go without saying, but trust me, we all need to hear this! We often speak without thinking about the impact of our words. Whenever we do, the small "fissure" we make with those words becomes the very thing which will weaken the "dam" holding back lots more!
If you look up quarrel in the dictionary, you find words like "dispute", "disagreement", and even "hostility". The most telling part about the definition is what happens to the relationship - there is a break! The break may be temporary, but it could be life-long. The root of the word is to complain. I wonder how many times we air our complaints without giving any thought to the possible "fissures" those very complaints are making in the relationship? Quarreling may refer to a "slight" shared because of words which are spoken, but enough "slights" and you pretty much weaken the relationship's integrity.
The words of Solomon - stop it before it bursts! In the Amplified Bible, this verse speaks of stopping contention before it becomes a quarrel. I think this is probably a little closer to the original language - because contention is the controversy we establish with our words - quarreling is the result of enough contention! So, contention is like the small leak - quarreling is the dam bursting. The implication is to watch what it is we set our minds and attitude toward - for what we take pleasure into entering into debate over may actually be our undoing!
To go back to my earlier point, Solomon didn't learn this as he slept. He learned it because his family was filled with all kinds of strife, contention, and rivalry! His brother wanted the throne - his mother wanted Solomon to have it. The contention which ensued made for a lot of rocky years for Solomon. He came from a pretty dysfunctional home. Dad committed adultery, littlest brother died shortly after childbirth, brothers fought against brothers, lust became a problem in his own life, and the list goes on. He learned this stuff in the trenches! If we think we will be any different, think again!
When we speak words which bring strife into the relationship, perhaps we'd do well to consider the value of the words we speak. We may want to express our "feelings", but we all know how untrustworthy our own "feelings" can be. They will lead us down paths we'd rather not travel almost every time we rely upon them! So, why do we allow our "feelings" to influence the words we speak? Maybe we would do well to ask God to "ride shotgun" over our feelings so we don't use them as the basis of the words we speak! Just sayin!