Two Journeys Ministry
In-Depth Biblical Content by Pastor Andy Davis

Dealing with Conflict, Pt.1 (Proverbs Sermon 10)

Dealing with Conflict, Pt.1 (Proverbs Sermon 10)

June 10, 2001 | Andy Davis
Proverbs 1:1-31:31
Humility, Wisdom

Pastor Andy Davis looks at what Proverbs has to say about conflict and discovers how it starts, how to handle it, and how to resolve it.


- Sermon Transcript - 

Before we get into this particular topic, I've really enjoyed going through the book of Proverbs and following this or that or the other issue. Proverbs isn't really written in a way similar to an epistle of Paul or an Old Testament narrative. There doesn't seem to be a tremendous amount of organization in terms of what proverb follows which one. We would never want to... We're not second guessing the Word of God, we're just saying that it doesn't seem to matter that much what verse follows the next one. So really what you're doing is you're following certain themes or topics or issues through the Book of Proverbs. And what I've done here is just to read through the whole book, and it really only took about an hour and a half or so, and followed any proverb that had to do with disagreements or conflicts between people, and started to organize them. You could do this on parenting, or on money, or on rich and poor issues, social justice issues, you could do it on the Gospel, on the nature of God, anything, and you would find a great deal of riches just coming out of this book. 

So what I'm doing is I'm just taking a minute and telling you how you can enrich your own personal Bible study in the Book of Proverbs. Just pick a topic and follow it through, and you'll pick up a lot of other things coming in as well, but you could make a list of all the proverbs that have to do with anxiety, for example, or with the mouth, we've talked about how we use our tongue, or various other ones. So that would be a way or an approach to studying the Book of Proverbs. But what I did here are those that have to do with conflicts, and by that, I don't just mean people disagreeing, I think that's part of life, but I mean even going beyond that into ruptured relationships, arguments, dissension, and what the Scripture has to say about that. Now, one of them comes out right from the beginning, Chapter 6, Verse 16 through 19, in which God lists things that he hates. It says, "There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Somebody who causes trouble.  

Before that person was there, there was peace and unity and harmony, and then as a result of the activity, the dissension, there's now that dissension stirred up. The flip side of this would be what we see in the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5, where it says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." So the opposite of somebody who has a habit or a tendency of stirring up dissension is somebody who could rightly be called a peacemaker. So those are the two opposites, and God loves a peacemaker in that regard. There is a tremendous devastation that comes from these kind of human conflicts, isn't there? There's a number of Proverbs that talk about that. 17:1 says, "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting and strife." You know what this is talking about. It really doesn't matter what's on the table if the people aren't getting along sitting around it. So I'd rather have a dry crust and some tepid water than a Thanksgiving feast and strife and difficulty. 18:19 speaks of this as well, "An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel." Once a rupture has come into a relationship, it's very hard to restore. 

It can be done, but it's the kind of thing that is a very serious issue. And so there's a great deal of trouble that comes from this kind of conflict. And then 21:9, and there's a number of Proverbs, we will be talking about these, so this talks about marriage. It says, "Better to live on a corner of a roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife." I'll say this, there's a number of verses about quarrelsome wives. If you're not a quarrelsome wife, you don't have anything to worry about, it doesn't apply to you. If you are, then this might have something to say. It distressed me that it never said anything about quarrelsome husbands because I find myself quarrelsome too, but then the fact is all the other verses that have to do with quarrelsome and dissension-filled people are all addressed to men as well, and so it works both ways. It's not just females or males that have trouble with this issue. But there are a number of proverbs that talk about it, and the issue is that there's a great deal of distress and trouble that comes from dissension in a family. A great deal.  

And Proverbs, the Book of Proverbs, has some wisdom to give us as far as how we're gonna deal with that. Now, what I've done is I've organized it into some categories here. The first major category is what causes fights and quarrels among you. That's, by the way, a quote from the Book of James. But what is it that... What causes fights and quarrels? What causes dissension? That's the first major category. The second is, if I can find it, how to avoid conflicts. How would we avoid conflicts? It's good to avoid a conflict in this definition that I'm giving of a ruptured relationship or a dissension or a disagreement in that way. And then how to resolve conflicts.  

I see that I've messed up my Roman numeral thing, so you can adjust that if you like. But how do you resolve conflicts? So what causes conflicts, how to avoid conflicts, and how to resolve after conflicts occur? The Book of Proverbs has something to say on each of those three.  

Let's look at the first. What causes fights and quarrels among you? I think probably the greatest is pride. Most human conflicts, most dissension and disagreement comes from pride. Now, how would you define pride? What is pride? What does that mean? What do you think, Steve? What is pride?  

I want what I want, when I want it and you're in my way and you're causing me trouble. That's right, it's a me-first attitude, and it causes us a great deal of strife. It's interesting here, the one that I've selected, 13:10, it says, "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice." So the opposite of pride is of course humility. And I've found just for myself, there are many, many people that are able to give me corrections, they're able to give me input, and in many cases, they're right, and it's amazing that reaction that comes up inside when somebody's doing that. Do you know what I'm talking about? And it's like, well, it's pride is what it is, and it starts to rankle. And in almost any other relationship, except the marriage relationship, you keep it covered and it's, "Well, thank you for your input," and all that, but it's when a spouse points something out that you can have some trouble.  

And I've found that this one spoke to me almost more than any of the other ones. Pride is the unwillingness to take some criticism or some correction. And it's one of the big themes of the book of Proverbs, the ability to take correction, the ability to take a rebuke. That immediately divides people into the category of a wise or foolish person. It's the ability to accept correction. And why is it? Because we need correction, don't we? We need to be adjusted. We need to be corrected. And it's pride that says, "No, I'm gonna fight, I'm gonna oppose, I'm gonna disagree." And then the quarrel comes in. 

Along with this comes anger in two different forms. The first phase is what you call annoyance, instant annoyance. I like this one. It says, "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult." Now, the thing with Proverbs is that you've always got an A and a B portion. And so some of these we're gonna see a couple of times, 'cause there's at least two nuggets in here, but one of them, the source of conflict is this annoyance that rises up inside you. Not just in terms of taking correction or criticism, but just anything that somebody does that might annoy you. 

You know the Book of Colossians covers pretty much all of the categories of negative human inner relationships when it says that we should bear with one another and forgive one another. Bearing with one another has to do with things that are not moral issues, they're just things that people do that get on your nerves, and you just are supposed to bear with it and put up with it. And then there are those things that are moral issues in which somebody has sinned against you. That's covered as well, "Forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven you." But when the lubrication between the gears gets removed, you start getting sparks and metal fragments and shards and difficulties, and the love is removed and it starts getting shrill and difficult. And so annoyance is the first kind of squeaking of the gears when there's no lubrication and we start having annoyance with each other.  

Also arrogance. Sorry, anger. As you extend it, it says in 14:17, "A quick tempered man does foolish things and a crafty man is hated." 15:18 on your sheet there, it says, "A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." We see that one again. 19:19 says, "A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty. If you rescue him, you'll have to do it again." That's an interesting proverb. Basically, if this is the way he is, he's always gonna be like this, you're gonna have to keep getting him out of the trouble. And it keeps coming up again and again, and so anger leads to a great deal of conflict, doesn't it? 29:11 says, "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control," and then, "An angry man stirs up dissension and a hot-tempered man commits many sins."  

Now, 29:11 is interesting. In 12:10, we had, "A fool shows his annoyance at once." Annoyance is the first inkling of anger. But in 29:11, we have "A fool giving full vent to his anger." You see, just taking the wraps off. Temper, the word temper literally means self-control. If you lose your temper, you've lost your self-control. Now, it's interesting how we've kind of changed the meaning a little bit if we say that so and so has a temper. We mean that they are an angry person. But really, temper originally meant self-control, the ability to control yourself, and when you lost your temper, you'd lost your self-control. But here in 29:11, the fool is giving full vent to his anger, he's putting logs on the fire and off it goes. And that's where a conflict goes from just a run of the mill disagreement to something huge. 

Another cause of conflict are words. Words. Now, we've already talked about talk to some degree, but there's just six sub-categories in this. First of all, many words; secondly, reckless words; third, harsh words; fourth, deceitful words; fifth, gossip; and sixth, insults. First, in terms of words, 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." So the tongue can be either an instrument of tremendous blessing, or an instrument of division, dissension and arguments and conflicts. So watch how you use the tongue. Watch it very carefully. But then in terms of words, if there are many words, it's very likely that there's going to be sin. We've seen this before. 10:19, it says, "Where words are many, sin is not absent." Or in another translation, "Sin is inevitable, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Sometimes it's better for the sake of the relationship simply to be quiet. Where there's a multiplication of words there's a greater likelihood that there's going to be conflict. Something will be said that shouldn't be said. 

Also, reckless words. When you think of a reckless driver, you think of somebody who's driving out of control. Somebody driving out of control, breaking the rules of the road, driving on the wrong side, driving too fast. And there are certain interpersonal relationships, you learn them in kindergarten, they haven't changed much since then. And when you start going recklessly, you pitch to the wind those rules for good relating that you learned so long ago. And you can even put words to it, reckless words. 12:18, it says, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Have you ever been pierced by somebody's reckless word? It hurts, doesn't it? And it's true of all of us. And the sad thing is, we have both received and have given those wounds, and that's where the conflicts come in, reckless words. 13:3 says, "He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." So be careful what you're saying. Think before you speak. 

The Book of James says, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." So be slow to speak. Think a little bit before you speak. Some of us have an easier time with that than others. The quiet and silent types don't struggle with this as much as those that talk more. But be careful of reckless words and also harsh words. 15:1. I think of all the Proverbs, this one may be the most useful. In other words, we're going through a lot of Proverbs tonight, but look at 15:1, memorize it, put it somewhere so that you can see it. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." There's so much truth in there, isn't there? "A gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." So if you say something harshly to somebody, don't be surprised if all of a sudden you've got yourself a conflict. A harsh word can rub and it hurts. 

Also, deceitful words. 15:4 says, "The tongue that brings healing is the Tree of Life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." If somebody starts to lie to you, if there starts to be deception in their speaking, pretty soon you've got a ruptured relationship, you've got a conflict. ‘You've got a disagreement. And also 25:23, "As a north wind brings rain, so a sly tongue brings angry looks." If you get to the point where you can't trust somebody and what they're saying, pretty soon, again, you've got a ruptured relationship. And then there's gossip, 16:28. It says, "A perverse man stirs up dissension and a gossip separates close friends." Somebody who said something out of turn, gave some information that was shared in confidence. Spread some news or some story about somebody just because gossip is fun to listen to and it's fun to be in the know and spread it, and before you know it, you've broken a relationship. So gossip can do that. These are all words that hurt.  

And then insults, 11:12. It says, "A man who lacks judgement derives," another word for derives would be insults, "his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue." So those are different things that the tongue can do that lead to conflicts. Also hatred. Now, in this case, I think hatred of the type that doesn't overlook an offense. 10:12 says, "Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." So it's a special kind of hatred. It's the unwillingness to forgive, an unwillingness to say, "I'm a sinner too. I could do that and I'm gonna cover that just the way Jesus covered my sins with his blood." But instead, there's a pride that comes and says, "Yeah, I'd sin, but I would never do that. And so therefore, I'm gonna withhold forgiveness and I'm going to start the rupture and I'm not going to forgive." And also there's categories of people, strangely, who seem to love a quarrel, they just seem to enjoy an argument. 

Now, all of us are quarrelish to some degree. We all have dissension built in us, it's part of the sin nature. It really is. But there's some people that just seem to live for it. 16:28, it says, "A perverse man stirs up dissension and a gossip separates close friends." 17:19, "He who loves a quarrel loves sin. He who builds a high gate invites destruction." 19:13 says... Sorry, 20:3 says, "It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." And then 26:21 says, "As charcoal to embers and as wood to a fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife." So there's just a category of people in the Book of Proverbs called quarrelsome. They are the kind of people that easily and quickly start a quarrel or a fight. And as I said, there's a number regarding the quarrelsome wife, but I really think 26:21 shows there's quarrelsome men as well. 27:15 and 16 says, "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day. Restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand." 

I think we should grow to despise quarrels and arguments. And say anything that we can do to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace, short of sacrificing doctrinal or biblical truth, we will do. That's what it means to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace, and that's very much what we desire to do. 

So if you struggle with quarrelsomeness, you know who you are. You know if there's that irritability and that agitation, and it's just easy for you to get into a quarrel, it's easy for you to get into a fight, you're very quick with that. Work on it. Bring it before the Lord in prayer. Say, "This is who I am." He already knows who you are. There's no sin that God can't work out of you through sanctification. There's nothing that he can't change. This is the big lie of Satan. I can't wait to get to Romans 6. Romans 6, the breakthrough idea I have from Romans 6 is that Satan's main lie is that you will always be a slave to sin, when that's the very thing that God has freed you from. You don't have to be who you are today if who you are today is characterized by sinful patterns. You're not a slave to sin anymore, you're free, you don't have to be quarrelsome. But the devil's in there, he's gonna say, "This is just who I am." Have you ever had that creep in? It's like, "I am quarrelsome, it's just who I am, I'm just irritable. You just have to put up with me." Well, you don't have to be that way, and so you can bring this to God and ask him to work on it. It's gonna take time, but it's well worth it.  

Another thing definitely that causes conflicts is unforgiveness. Look at 17:9. It says, "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." This word cover is a major word in the Book of Proverbs, a very significant theological word. It reminds me of Romans Chapter 4. And you don't have to turn there, but just listen to what it says. This is a Psalm of David right in the middle of the discussion on justification by faith alone. "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." Isn't that beautiful? "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."  

Now, all of you who are Christians, you enjoy that every day. God has covered your sins in the blood of Jesus Christ. And so what he's urging us to do is to cover one another's sins, just as he's covered our sins. It's called forgiveness. But if there's an unwillingness to forgive, there's going to be a rupture in the relationship, guaranteed. Guaranteed. And so he who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. What do you think it means to repeat the matter?   

Well, to bring it up again. To say, "Well, you did this to me. This is... You remember that when you... " You brought it up again, you've wounded afresh. You should have forgiven. So to bring up the matter means it's uncovered again. But God has commanded us that we should love one another and forgive each other just as he's forgiven us. And another thing that causes conflicts is misunderstanding, or you could say poor listening habits. Sometimes conflicts come from nothing.   

Just from absolutely nothing, just two people just talking at each other and they are both in essential agreement, it's just the words are getting in the way. Have you ever experienced that before? And then when it's all... When the mist is blown and you say, "What was this all about? There's nothing here." If you had just taken a moment to listen to each other, there wouldn't have been the conflict. Look at this one. 18:13 says, "He who answers before listening, that is his folly and his shame." 

You know what I'm talking about? You start talking when the person... "Well, I know what they're gonna say." Well, no, you don't. You're not a mind reader. Jesus was a mind reader. He knew what people were gonna say, he knew what was on people's hearts. It says in Scripture, Jesus knew what they were thinking and said X, Y, and Z. Do you know what people are thinking? Here, I'll test. I'm thinking of something right now. I do this with my kids. What am I thinking of? How many of you guessed pink elephants with green bows on them?   

Okay. Well, if you have the ability to discern what I'm thinking, then you and Jesus are alone in that ability. My kids have never been able to do it, and I can't do it with them. How is it then we have access to each other's thoughts? Words. It's a gift that God's given us, but you have to listen to them. Try to understand what the person means by what they say. It's really kind of a selfless thing in communication. Whatever your opinion is about an issue, you're going to lay that aside so at least you can listen enough to say, "What is this person saying?" Unless you do that, there really is no point in a conversation, there's no point.  

You already know what you believe, and you're not listening to what the person is saying, and so many conflicts come from just poor listening and misunderstanding. And then there's others, there's just the issue of sins that come in. I could have grouped these next ones in to just sins that creep into your life. For example, alcohol or drug abuse. 23:29 and following, it says, "Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife?" Did you see that? Somebody who's struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, what do they have in their life? Nothing but one broken relationship after another, one argument after another. Strife and conflict comes in as a result of that.  

It goes on, "Who has needless bruises, bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine and who go to sample bowls of mixed wine." And it goes on from there. And also adultery. In Chapter 6, 32 and following, it compares a man who steals to feed himself 'cause he's starving to somebody who commits adultery. Even though that man has to pay restitution, you can still at least understand why he did it. You can still... You don't despise the man because he was hungry. He still has to pay restitution, even though if it cost him everything he owns, he's gotta pay restitution. 

"But the man who commits adultery," it says, "lacks judgment. Whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away for jealousy arouses a husband's fury and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will not accept any compensation. He will refuse the bribe, however great it is." It's a deeply ruptured relationship. In this case, the man to the offended husband, but also the husband and wife as well. So this is a conflict or a dispute that almost there can be no healing for. And that's why I think it's permitted... Divorce is permitted in the case of adultery because of the deep rupturing that occurs in the relationship. Why Jesus permitted it. 

And also provocation from fools, 27:3. "Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both." What is provocation? Somebody provokes you. Somebody who gets under your skin, who just kind of just rankles you and seems to make it his or her business just to annoy you, and that can lead into conflict, and also greed can as well. 28:25, "A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper." So dissension comes from greed as well.   

And that's what it says in the book of James, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" You want something and don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. And why? Because there's a yearning for earthly things or for earthly comforts. It's greed. 

Alright, so we've done a kind of biblical analysis on where conflicts come from, according to the Book of Proverbs, there may be others as well, but this is a diagnosis of where they come from. Well, how can we avoid them? How can we avoid conflict? Well, first, be patient and even-tempered, have a long fuse. Some of you have a longer fuse than others, and this may be more a matter of temperament. Some of you have had your fuse greatly extended by being a Christian. There is no one who has as long a fuse as God. God has a long fuse. He is very patient. Isn't he?  

And you hear about atheists or others tempting God and saying, "If there's a God, may he strike me down right now." God isn't like that. He's not a quick-tempered man. He has a long fuse and he's very patient. And so sanctification works in us, I hope, in extending of the fuse. Again, the Book of James, "Everyone shall be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth." What is James talking about when he talks about moral filth? He's talking about anger. Human anger, for the most part, James would call moral filth, and so we want to get rid of it, take out the garbage and lengthen the fuse so that it takes longer to blow up, if you ever even do. 14:29 says, "A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly." 16:32, "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." Isn't that great? It's better to control yourself than to be a powerful warrior who can conquer a city. 17:27, "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered." It says in the Book of Hebrews that we should consider Jesus who endured such opposition from sinful men so that we do not grow weary and lose heart. Jesus was basically provoked every day of his ministry, wasn't he? Every day he had enemies pounding on him. And what kind of fuse did he have? Did he ever sinfully blow up at anybody? No. And the same Jesus, the Spirit of the same Christ, is in you if you're a Christian, to extend that fuse so that you don't blow up or give vent to your anger.  

We've already write 29:11, "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." So be patient and even-tempered and you can avoid a conflict. Overlook an insult. Overlook. That's big, isn't it? Just overlook it. It's hard to do, I know. Spurgeon said, "If you wanna be a pastor, you should have one blind eye and one deaf ear. And know when to turn it." And why? Because it's just so important. People are very opinionated and they're gonna say what they're gonna say, and that's good, and you'd have to be able to sift through 'cause there's a lot of truth in there that you wanna take. But it's true of all of us. We all, to some degree, need one blind eye and one deaf ear and know when to turn it. Overlook. Don't let it get under your skin. 12:16, "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult." Is that easy to do? Do you find that easy to do? Somebody says something, you wanna get back, don't you? You wanna... Boy, if I could just have a good comeback to that. Far from turning the other cheek. 

In 19:11, "A man's wisdom gives him patience. It is His glory, it is to His glory to overlook an insult." Do you know God looks down from heaven? And when you overlook an insult because you're conscious of God, it is glorious to him. It is to your glory, it says, to overlook an insult. And 20:3, "It is to man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." That's a great one. A next one is to be an active peacemaker. It takes an outlook, an energy to be a peacemaker, to say, "You know, I don't want to have a conflict with you. I want a good relationship, and I'm going to work on this relationship." 15:18 says, "A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." He pours water on the quarrel, and the fire goes out. That takes effort. You gotta haul the water and pour it, you've got to make the effort to calm the quarrel. You have to have an outlook of a peacemaker. 

And also instead of using those damaging words that we talked about in the first category, use healing words and gentle words. We've already looked at 15:1 but it's worth saying again. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." You know, it's more than just true if somebody comes with a whole bunch of stuff to you and for you to say, "You may be right, you may be right." They probably are. We're all such sinners that if somebody's bringing a whole handful of gravel and throwing it, some of it's gonna hit you. Some of it, you deserve. This is one of the things I love the most about George Whitfield, one of the most criticized men of his generation. People always hammering on him, criticizing his field preaching or his evangelistic techniques or something in a sermon or whatever. And when people would bring him a criticism, he would say something like, "You may be right, I wanna pray about that." He'd take it in and he'd go sift it through in prayer with God, and he would allow the wheat to stick to him and the chaff he'd allowed to blow away and it didn't bother him. 

And that's humble, isn't it? To say, "Even though this person has come full of spit and vinegar, they may have something that I need to hear and I need to be corrected thereby." But that's not easy, but the start of it is a gentle answer that turns away wrath. Say, "you may be right, you may be right. I wanna hear what you have to say," that kind of thing. 15:4, "The tongue that brings healing is the Tree of Life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." 17:27, "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered." So use words that heal, words that calm the quarrel. 

And this may be perhaps the most important for us all, and that is to forgive quickly and wholeheartedly as the Lord forgave you. We've already looked at 10:12, "Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs," and 17:9, "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." It's so important for us to cover each other's sins, isn't it? You know, it's not gonna be long before they're gonna need to cover your sins. It's just the way it is. Jesus says the measure you use is the measure we'll receive. The way you judge others is the way you'll be judged because we all do the same things, don't we? We all do. And so right now you're needing to forgive them, it won't be long before they'll need to forgive you for the same thing, so treat them the way you wanna be treated in that time. 

And then the next one is, "Drop the matter quickly before it gets out of control." Look at 17:14. "Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out." The image is of a big... You imagine a big dam and there starts to be a crack in the top. And at first just a little trickle of water's coming through and then it starts to widen. You know what I'm talking about? 'Cause more and more water is pushing through and rubble's starting to come out, and before you know it, you have a flood flowing through. Have you seen that happen in a relationship? It just, it's gradual at first, but then it starts to accelerate and then the relationship's broken. It's better to drop the matter. That's part of overlooking, but just drop it. Don't continue on.  

Now, there are some times you need to work things through, but there are other times that this proverb kicks in and we drop the matter before the dispute breaks out. The next one is, don't hang around people who love to argue. The Book of Proverbs tells us that. Don't hang around people who love to argue. If there's a person in that category who by track record just constantly is causing strife and division and conflict and distress and all that, don't be with them, don't hang around them. 22:10 says, "Drive out the mocker and out goes strife. Quarrels and insults are ended." Boy, it's quiet, all of a sudden. What happened?   

So there comes a point where you start to realize that we don't have any problems with each other, just one individual who's stirring up strife and conflict. And then 22:24 and 25 says, "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man and do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared." The next one says, "Observe proper social boundaries." I like this one. 25:17, "Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house. Too much of you and he will hate you." I mean, that's just good wisdom, isn't it? Here I am again, I brought over some biscuits. It's like... You know, there's just boundaries, there are just reasonable boundaries, aren't there? And sometimes you don't know what they are, but Proverbs is a book of practical daily wisdom, and sometimes conflicts come because you've just broken some boundaries, you've stepped across. You brought too many biscuits, I guess, I don't know what it is. But day after day, you're there and observe those boundaries.  

And then this last one that we'll cover tonight, we'll stop here and then we'll... Boy, I hate to stop but it's 7:02. Anyway, don't meddle in other people's private affairs. This is interesting. 26:17, "Like one who seizes a dog by the ears, is a passerby who meddles in a quarrel not his own." I mean, don't get involved if it's not your thing. Now, they may ask you into it. Pray about it first and then, well, I mean, do you really want me involved? And all humor aside, I'll tell you what, you talk to police officers that get involved in domestic squabbles, they'll tell you those are some of the most dangerous situations they face because of the anger and the rage that's going on there. They will tell you that these are difficult ones. 

How to resolve conflicts. No, there's still another page and a half to go, so why don't we stop here. You've got the outline, read through it and God willing, next time we'll pick it up at this point. I'm gonna leave you with in the middle of your conflicts, and you can read through and resolve them this week, and next week, a week from now, we'll get them resolved with the Lord's help. Why don't we close in prayer and we'll be done for the evening. 

Father, we thank you for the practical wisdom that you've given us tonight. Father, it's hard to put these things into practice because we're all such sinners. Lord, you know my pride and my anger and my carnal nature and my sinfulness. And Father, I also know that those same things are in others as well. There's no temptation that has overtaken us except what is common to man. Father, we all struggle with the same things, and so I pray that we would treat one another as you have treated us, that would be as gracious with one another as you've been with us. Father, I pray that you would make us a congregation that puts these truths into practice. Father, help us to be wise people, and more than that, help us to be Christ-like people. Father, help us to be like Jesus, with a long fuse, quick to forgive, a willingness to lay down our lives for others, Father, that we might minister in the way you've called us to do. Thank you for this time tonight and thank you for this day in your house. And be with us now as we go on into our world that we might be witnesses for you. Bless our homes, our families. Bless those that are out on mission trips right now, the youth, Scott and Mark Lee and do things in others, Father. Bless them and bring them all back to us safely with great stories to tell of your faithfulness. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.  

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