“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out”
It only takes a word – a momentary impulse – an emotional reaction – a thoughtless remark. And like many things they can never be withdrawn or erased. There are no delete or rewind buttons on our mouths. And the flood and counter-flood that result can be beyond expectation or understanding.
Words and actions come from somewhere – as do responses. We might find that all sorts of thoughts and emotions have been stirring within us and building up behind a fragile partition for some time. Hurt, anger, and feelings of inadequacy are just three of the raw areas within us that make us ultra-sensitive to ourselves and very insensitive to others at the same time.
With good reason Jesus directs us towards the law of love – to love God, to love one another and to love our neighbours and our enemies. The Holy Spirit is focussed on the state of our hearts and Paul advises us to be careful about our thoughts. Then James puts it very bluntly.
- “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)
- “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8)
- “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26)
If a dispute arises we need to remember that it is not always useful or necessary for us to be proved right, or even to vindicate ourselves – particularly at the time. Being ‘dead right’ is a small consolation if a relationship has ceased to exist or a family life has been blown apart.
Our words and actions should be aimed at building up and not breaking down. James again speaks very clearly.
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should 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” (James 1:19-20)
Keep the floodgates closed
Lord please fill me with Your love and with the fruit of the Holy Spirit and help me to build good relationships and not bruise or destroy them. Amen.