The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. Proverbs 17:14

A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.

A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. Proverbs 18:6-7

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. Proverbs 20:3

The precarious position in our culture right now is becoming a culture of complainers. Everyone seems like they are striving against everyone. Quarreling has become “gas-lighting” where people simply become verbal bullies. When people do not agree with them, they simply berate a person verbally until they wear them out and just give-in to the unrelenting bombardment of accusations and demands.

This sense of “finding everything wrong with everything” has become part of the fabric of our culture. Of course there are times, like when Covid infected our culture and dominated our thinking, that arguments, attacks, and quarreling became intensified. People were weaponizing their personal convictions and trying to force others around them to abide by them. Even when things start to calm down (if that is even possible) people seem more committed to finding out what is wrong with others than what is right. People are looking for ways to not be in a relationship or to work together.

I was reminded this past week, as I was preparing for my Sunday message, that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). The reason is that the world is already condemned, so Christ did not have to come condemning it. Somehow the history of the church has periods where the church spends more time condemning the world and complaining against the world. I get it, they do stuff that is not what God desired for us to operate. But why would we expect unbelievers to operate according to a standard they have already (and continue) rejected. That would be simply ignorant of us to expect unbelievers to live up to our moral code.

Proverbs makes it pretty clear, fools love to quarrel and look for ways to complain. In our environment we love to inflict personal attacks on people and question their character. If we can discredit the person, then what they have to say becomes meaningless.

But Christians are called to be different. Time and space does not allow us to cover texts like James 3:1-12 which demonstrates that the tongue of a Christ follower ought to not to be filled with toxic venom, which is exactly what complaining does, it spits out an individual’s frustrations and anger out on others. We cannot tame it but only the power of His Spirit can teach us that our words need to be filled with grace.

None of this means we cannot engage in meaningful “arguments” where we try and work through issues by hearing “arguments” that show a different and meaningful way to look at an issue. That is very different than people who just complain because they are not getting their way. Colossians 4 invites us to make sure our speech “is always with grace” and no matter who I am talking with or what the issue is, we need to speak with grace and present meaningful “arguments” to help answer reasonable questions about life and faith.

Pastor Brad