8 Keys to Fighting Fair

A36W5JI 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”:

“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 (also: 3:30; 14:17; 17:27; 29:22)

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:

“A soft answer turns away wrath.” Proverbs 15:1 (also: 15:4, 18; 17:14; 20:3)

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:

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13 (also: 10:19; 12:18; 13:10; 25:11)

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,

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” Proverbs 11:12 (also: 12:25; 18:19, 21; 27:3)

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,

“An ungodly man digs up evil: and in his lips there is a burning fire.” Proverbs 16:27 NKJV (also: 10:12; 17:9; 29:11; 29:20)

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,

 “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” Proverbs 10:19 (also: 15:2; 17:27-28; 26:20)

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,

“Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1 (also: 15:16-17; 21:9, 19)

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.

In God We Trust?

Turn on your radio to any local talk show and before long you will hear someone complaining that God is being removed from our society. Without a doubt this person will site such examples as: the removal of “In God We Trust” from our money, the unconstitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance because of the phrase “one nation under God”, the removal of Ten Commandments displays from public buildings, or the prohibition of prayer in schools.  Many Christians have “rallied ‘round the flag” of the fight to keep God’s name in the consciousness of America by keeping God’s name on our money, on our walls and on our lips.  But is this the fight that a Christian should be engaged in?  Is the purpose of the Church to fight for the public display of God’s name?  Or is the fact that God’s name is being removed from our society merely a symptom of a greater illness?

If a doctor addresses the symptoms of his patience’s disease but never diagnoses the problem he is at best incompetent, at worst irresponsible.  The same is true with our current societal sickness.  God being removed from our society is but a symptom of a greater illness.  If all our efforts are going to “cure” the symptoms then have we really accomplished anything? The illness is that people have not given their hearts to God and this is manifested by the symptoms of removing all traces of God from society.  What then does God want from us as a nation? 1) God wants His name on our hearts, not just on our walls, 2) God wants us to not only honor Him with our lips but with our hearts and 3) God wants us to obey his voice and then He will be our God and we His people.

God wants His name on our hearts, not just on our walls. As Moses’ life is coming to a close, he relates the words of God to the Israelites You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” (Deu 6:5, 6). Moses follows this statement with commands to teach the law diligently to their children and write the law on the doorpost and gates of their homes (Deu 6:7, 9). If his law does not dwell in our hearts then the practice of writing his name on our doorpost and gates yields nothing.  For many generations God’s name and laws have been written on the doorpost and gates of our country with little results because they are not written on the hearts of the people.  Christians should fight to write the name of God on the hearts of people not on the walls of our country.

God wants us to not only honor Him with our lips but with our hearts. In rebuking the Pharisees of His day, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah saying “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” (Matt 15:8, 9) God does not want our lip-service by the minting of his name on our money, or the posting of commandments, or the recital of the pledge; God wants our hearts!  Don’t be fooled by the devil.  If we engage in the fight to keep God’s name in society without the people of this nation first giving God their hearts, then we only exacerbate the illness.

God wants us to obey His voice and then He will be our God and we His people. Our nation exists in a paradox.  Some would call us a “Christian nation”, yet immorality permeates our society.  Does the placing of God’s name on our money, our walls or in our schools make us a “Christian nation”?  From Jeremiah we learn God’s thoughts “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.” (Jer 7:23) If this nation is to ever be considered a “Christian Nation” then we need to heed the voice of God and to walk in His ways.  We must write His name and law on our hearts, we must draw near to Him in worship not with our lips only but first with our hearts and in doing so He will bless us and it will be well with us.

Our efforts should not go to secure God’s name in the emblems of our nation.  Our efforts must go toward securing God’s name in the hearts of our friends, family and nation.  When we direct our efforts to curing the illness, the symptoms will then take care of themselves.

The Word of God

In his second letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul said:What does the Bible say?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

With these words, Paul is encouraging Timothy, and us, to look to the scriptures for guidance in our daily lives. There is not a problem that the scriptures cannot solve. There is not a situation that it does not address. The answers are there… but we have to be willing to look for those answers and then apply them to our lives.

To illustrate how the scriptures have an answer to every situation let’s look at the phrase, “He [I] will not leave you nor forsake you.”

To encourage Joshua to lead the armies of God into Canaan, Moses said, “He [God] will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deu 31:6

To encourage Solomon to start and complete the building of God’s temple, David said, “He [God] will not leave you nor forsake you.” 1 Chr 28:20

To encourage the Christians of his day to be content with their material possessions, the Hebrew writer said, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” Heb 13:5

The same words were used in three different situations. God has a word for you. A word that will help you take on your day. A word that will help you build a life for Him. A word that will help you be content. Open God’s word and see what He has in store for you today.

God’s Secret to Happiness

secret-to-happinessCan I share a secret with you? If the truth be told, I haven’t always been a happy person. There, I’ve said it. I’m glad to finally got that off my chest.

You see, there was a long stretch in my life where I was a truly unhappy person. To me happiness was an elusive dream. It was something that I longed for, searched for, and so desperately desired.

In my quest to find happiness I sought out relationships with people. I thought if I could find the right girl I would find happiness. I thought if I surrounded myself with a close group of friends I would discover what it meant to be happy. I did both and soon realized that people couldn’t make me happy.

When I realized that people couldn’t make me happy I decided that I would I find happiness by moving. I just knew that if I moved away from my unhappiness I was sure to find happiness somewhere else. So I moved to Florida where I thought I would be happy. But I soon felt that if I would move back to Tennessee I would be happier.

Finally after seeing that people and places were not going to make me happy I decided to turn to work and money, surely I could find happiness in those things. I’m here to tell you that happiness can’t be founded upon where you work or the type of job you do. And don’t get me started on money. You all have heard the old saying, “more money; more problems,” well it’s especially true when you’re looking for money to make you happy. Neither of these things made me happy and I was ready to give up. I was ready to resign myself to a life of unhappiness.

And then one day I read a bible verse that changed my life. In Luke 11:28 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” To understand how this verse fits with the concept of happiness you need only to know that blessed is sometimes translated happy (Acts 26:2; Romans 14:22 NKJV). So Jesus is saying, “Happy are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” It was then that I finally realized that if I really wanted to be happy I couldn’t base my happiness on people, places or things… my happiness had to come from God’s word and my keeping of it. Then and only then could I be happy. I can’t express to you the joy and freedom that came to me that day. I was finally released from the drudgery of seeking after happiness because I knew it could be found in the keeping of God’s word. Does that mean that I’ve kept His word perfectly since then? Of course not. When I falter, and believe me, I falter, I ask for forgiveness, confess my weakness and go back to keeping God’s word.

The apostle Paul understood this concept. He was a man who endured more for the cause of Christ than any of us could imagine and yet he was able to, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) His contentment was not predicated by the people who was with him, the place that he might have been or the things that he had. Instead his contentment, his happiness, was based on God’s word and his keeping of it. Did Paul fail in keep God’s word? In Romans 7:7-25 he confessed to failing and failing often. Yet he keep on “pressing toward the goal.”

Sadly there are a lot of unhappy Christians in the world and for the vast majority of them it’s because they are trying to find happiness in people, places and things. Friend, you will never be happy in this life unless you are following God’s word. You will never know the heights of happiness so long as you look for people, places and things to make you happy. They will all change and fail you but God and His word will never change and He will never fail you. My prayer for you is that you will look to God for your happiness.

Don’t Envy Sinners

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:17-18

The wise man is warning us to not let our hearts want what sinners have. Instead we are to be enthusiastic for the fear of the Lord all day long. The reason for this is that there is an afterlife and if we have been enthusiastic for the fear of the Lord we will not be cut off like the sinner who did not fear the Lord.

Envying or wanting what sinners have in this life is a great temptation for God’s people. Just like the children of Israel we too want to be like the “nations around us.” (1 Samuel 8) The great temptation is to envy the way the sinner lives in the here and now. The sinner gets to go wherever he wants; fishing on Sunday, nightclubs on Saturday, and immoral movies on Friday night. The sinner gets to dress anyway she wants to; with immodest dress, and expensive and costly clothing. The sinner doesn’t have to show self-control in their eating and drinking, emotions, or sexual relationships. The sinner gets to take their ease and “eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19) because they live only for today and not for the hereafter.

But God has called for us as His children to be zealous for Him all the day (or all our days). Our lives are to be filled with pleasing God and seeking to follow His commandments. The reason for this is because there is an afterlife. There is coming a time when men, the sinner and the saved alike, will be judged according to their works (1 Peter 1:17). Surely if we follow God and His son Jesus Christ then our hope of being judged faithful will not be cut off (Romans 8:23-24).

Let’s not envy what sinners have in this life because if we do we will have their reward in the next life.

Related proverbs: Proverbs 24:1-2, 19-20; 28:14


Do the Honorable Thing

This week’s Wisdom Wednesday is: Do the Honorable Thing

Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel. Proverbs 20:3 NASB

A36W5JIn today’s proverb, Solomon reminds us that the honorable thing for a man to do is avoid strife and quarreling, not engage in it. Because any ordinary fool can start an argument. We would do well to learn this lesson because too often we think the honorable thing to do is start and argument with someone and in the process crush them with our overwhelming knowledge of the facts. When in reality we only crush them with our over-inflated egos. Whether it’s with your spouse, a family member, a co-worker, a church member, or a friend; remember it more honorable to not start an argument than it is to win an argument.

Using this proverb as a mirror do you see yourself as an honorable man or a fool? If you avoid strife and quarreling then you are an honorable man. But if you like to quarrel about anything and everything then Solomon says that you are a fool. 

Today’s take away thought: Learn to do the honorable thing… pick your battles carefully (yes there are somethings worth fighting for), learn patience in dealing with others, and be a peacemaker.

Related proverbs: Proverbs 14:29, 16:32, 17:14, 18:6, 19:11