I want to talk to you today about fightin’. I don’t mean fist-fighting but verbal fighting, arguing. This is not a lesson designed to tell you to stop arguing per se. No, I want to share with you some wisdom from the Proverbs on how to fight fair. The truth of the matter is we fuss and fight with one another. We fight with our spouses. We argue and disagree our family and friends. We spat with neighbors and co-workers, and it’s no secret, we fuss and fight and argue with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Since we engage in verbal disagreement with others, let’s learn the keys to fighting fair.
#1 – Don’t go looking for a fight.
The first rule for How to Fight Fair is that you don’t go looking for a fight. As Christians we don’t want to be the kind of person who is quarrelsome, argumentative or just plain disagreeable. God describes these kind of people as “warped and sinful” (Titus 3:10-11), as well as “foolish”:
I’ve noticed that the times I’ve gone looking for a fight, you know those times when you’re mad and you just want to unload on someone, well it’s those times that I don’t fight fair. That’s when I’m angry and I sin (ref. Ephesians 4:26; James 1:19). Let’s not do that, so key number #1, Don’t go looking for a fight.
#2 – If one comes to you, try to diffuse it.
However, there are times when a fight comes to you. So key #2, as best you can, try to diffuse a fight by employing this strategy:
So, when your spouse comes home angry and wants to take it out on you, or your co-worker wants to use you as a verbal punching bag, do your best to diffuse the situation with a soft word. Remember, God wants you, “if possible, so far as it depends on you live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). However, that’s not always the case, so let’s turn our attention on the keys to fighting fair during a fight:
#3 – Listen before you speak.
First, listen before you speak. Do you like it when someone is not listening to what you’re saying because they are formulating a rebuttal. I can’t stand it when people do that to me either. Well you know what? I’m sure others do not like when you or I do the same thing to them. Listen to what God has to say about the matter:
Simply treat others the way you want to be treated (ref. Matthew 7:12). Do you want to be heard? Then give them the same courtesy. “Be quick to hear, [and] slow to speak” (James 1:19a). By doing this, you will demonstrate to the other person that you care about them and their concerns (ref. Philippians 2:3-11) and you will be well on your way to quickly resolving the issue at hand.
#4 – Keep it clean.
Before a fight, boxers are told (at least in the Rocky movies) to, “Keep it clean.” This also applies to verbal arguments and fights as well, so keep it clean. Sarcasm, name-calling, personal insults, belittling, making exaggerated statements, and verbal sucker-punches have no place in our discourse with others. The wise man said,
Often times, those who lace their arguments with vile, hurtful insults do so out of desperation. They do this because they feel threatened, or they think they are losing the fight. Their argument can’t stand on its own merits so they resort to verbal sucker-punches in an attempt to crush the spirit of the one on the receiving end, thus making reconciliation even harder. Many a marriage and friendship have been irreparably severed because someone verbally hit below the belt. So, fight fair by dropping the personal insults. Keep it clean.
#5 – Stick to the subject at hand.
Next, and this is a cousin to our last point, stick to the subject at hand. For instance, if you’re fighting with your spouse over finances, that’s no time to resurrect something that happened a year ago and throw it back into your spouse’s face. Stick to the subject at hand. If it’s the bills, then talk about the bills, not a broken promise from a year ago to fix a leaky faucet. Wisdom says,
Now this doesn’t mean that there might be related issues that need to be discussed. However, digging up the past, by “keeping a record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV) readily at your finger tips is a tactic of those who do not want to face the present. When you’re arguing with someone, fight fair by sticking to the subject at hand and resolve the issue that is under discussion before you bring up any others.
#6 – Know when to stop.
There’s nothing worse than someone who wants to keep an argument going on forever. You’ve heard the old adage, don’t go to bed angry. Well that is good advise, not just for married couples for all of your relationships. Arguing is not bad in and of itself, however, fighting longer than is needed is unfair and destructive. Heed Solomon’s advise and know when to stop because,
Knowing when to stop is perhaps the most important key to learning the art of fighting fair. The apostle Paul described those who keep on fighting as “warped and sinful” (Titus 3:11). You don’t want to be this kind of person, so stop when the other person has had enough, or when you’ve had enough. By stopping you can quickly squelch overheated emotions and begin to find common ground for reconciliation.
#7 – Seek a resolution.
Arguing can be a healthy part of any relationship. It simply is a means of resolving conflict. However, at the end of every fight, you must seek a resolution. The one who doesn’t want to resolve a fight doesn’t fight fair. So, whatever the fight was about resolve it. Remember,
The good life is found in a lack of confrontation, not an abundance of material possessions. If you enter into an argument with the goal of resolving the issue, then you will fight fair. Don’t forget, unresolved issues are ticking time bombs that will explode later on and will damage the tranquility of any home and threaten the bond of any relationship.
#8 – Keep it private.
The world doesn’t need to know that you and your spouse, or co-worker, or family member had a fight. There’s no need to blab about it on Facebook, or call and complain to your momma, or get your best friend on your side, or rundown your opponent to your bud at work. After the fight is over, keep it private. Solomon offers sound advise when he said:
“Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end.” Proverbs 25:9-10 (also: 12:15; 16:28; 26:17)
I’m certainly not saying you can’t share with your spouse, or a councilor. Nor am I saying underage child shouldn’t tell his/her parent about an argument. Rather, I’m challenging you to check your motives in telling others about the fight you had with someone. If you’re seeking wise council, then by all means share the fight with someone. ? However, more times than not, seeking wise council is a front for gossip, which is soundly condemned by God (ref. Romans 1:29b-32; 1 Timothy 5:12-13). So examine your motives, and fight fair by not revealing the secrets of an argument. Keep it private.
Fighting and arguing is just a fact of life. It’s my hope that this short lesson will help you to fight fair in the future.