Flash flood warnings are meant to be taken seriously. Heavy, sudden downpours are capable of severe destruction, ranging from dangerous driving conditions to structural (building) damage. Rivers and streams can overflow with the sudden swell of added rainwater and countless home-owners dread the threat of its effects. What’s most difficult is the unpredictability of what happens next.
So it is with strife.
Proverbs 17:14 gives us a warning that is not meant to be taken lightly: “The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water…” In other words, strife is like water pouring out from a faucet or a raincloud; it can not be taken back or stopped once it has begun. What we have to realize is that strife has to be stopped before it gets started. That might sound very hard to do, but it becomes nearly impossible otherwise!
Would you recognize strife coming if you saw it approaching? Let’s compare it to that flash flood warning. You may hear a distant rumbling of thunder (discontentment) and see some ominous black clouds (anger, bitterness) in the sky. The weather pattern becomes quickly unstable due to the barometer changes (pressure) in the atmosphere. Before you know it, the recipe for a heavy-duty squall is in place!
You might be dealing with a situation that is disrupting your relationship with a co-worker, a loved one or an acquaintance. Perhaps you were treated unfairly and just want to have your “say” in the matter. Be careful–the storm clouds could be swirling about! It takes a lot of strength to walk away and not respond at all. However, that is the advice given in part 2 of Proverbs 17:14: “…therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”
How we respond when hurt, mistreated or pressured, will determine whether strife makes an abrupt and troublesome appearance. Try not to feed into the frenzy of a disaster that is looming ominously nearby. You will avoid an aftermath of devastation and, best of all, won’t need to worry about the clean-up!
Proverbs 17:27-28 – “He that hath knowledge spareth his words; and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. “