Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
Do not pick a fight. It seems an easy enough rule to follow, and yet we transgress it more than we may think. We don’t consciously say to ourselves that we want to start a fight, but then our actions may reveal more than we care to admit. Just trying to have a little fun, we tease someone and are “surprised” that he would take it so seriously.
Some of us take pride in speaking our mind, letting people know where we stand. Or to say it another way, we are ready to take anyone on. We contend for no reason when we speak or act rudely. We make unnecessary remarks about a person’s appearance or cut in front of another car or a person standing in line. We are contending, riling up another person unnecessarily.
This proverb does not forbid contending; it forbids contending against someone who is not doing us harm. There are enough times when we are to contend for the sake of justice, to have truth be heard, and in proper self-defense. All the more then we are not to contend when it is uncalled for. Otherwise, the appropriate times to contend lose their effectiveness because we are regarded as contentious persons anyhow. “That’s the way _____ is. Just ignore him.”
Christians should be known as those slow to anger and slow to cause anger. It is laid upon us to contend for the sake of the gospel. Thus, to be known as people who contend for the sake of trivial matters, and especially to contend without cause, embarrasses our witness for the gospel of Christ. As much as is possible, let us today be at peace for the sake of the gospel.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org