Hold on for a moment, this really is not about football. Recently sports talk radio has had very little to talk about. No sports! They began talking about favorite movies, heroes, really anything they could think of. This past week, the NFL held their draft. It is normally a pretty big event as each team and their fans look to the future and hopes to draft the next big thing. This year, with no sports, the draft became a very big deal to sports geeks like Brian Magie. Long story longer, the Eagles are a decent team who need help in several areas. Areas that happened to have a good number of excellent prospects in this year’s draft. In the first round they decided to not select the consensus pick but go with a player that was not as well known. In the second round, in spite of just signing their quarterback to one of the richest contracts in NFL history, they decided to pick another quarterback. This is hardly, if ever, done in the NFL. Now the sports talk shows had something to talk about. And they are milking it for all it is worth. One host will take the positive side while the other host takes the negative side. No one has the luxury of waiting to see if the Eagles were innovative or just ignorant. The point of all of this is that the hosts need the controversy to continue. So they are continuing to add wood to the fire.
Proverbs 26:20 speaks to this, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” It is probably inevitable that being isolated with the same people for this long will end up with us quarreling about something. Truth is that we don’t need to be isolated to quarrel! Our sinfulness leads us to desire something more than we desire to glorify God and so we are willing to quarrel and fight to get it (read James 4). These quarrels may be for just a moment or two or they may last a long time. According to Proverbs, it all depends on how much wood we add to the fire. I love the reference to the whisperer. How often are we the whisperer? The quarrel is dying down but we need to add one last comment. We know we are wrong and so we say it quietly. We kind of mumble it. Our quarreling partner can’t let it go and so they ask us to repeat it. We now have a choice. Too often we throw a huge log on the fire by repeating our mumble louder and with more conviction. Whoosh...full on fire now! Sadly, some of these same fights can go on for years. We let things simmer down but they are still there, smoldering, until another log comes flying in and the fight is burning as bright as it did when it first began.
At other times, we are like those sports talk show hosts. We throw wood on other people’s fires. We start up a flame that really didn’t involve us. We decide that we need to give our opinion on a problem that does not involve us. Proverbs 26 speaks about this in verse 17 by using a different, but effective, metaphor, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.” The warning is to those who want to throw logs on other people’s fire. You might as well grab the ears of the dog that is passing by you on the street. Not a wise move. You cannot get away with just saying, “I was just saying...”. You will get bit and maybe worse.
At this point we could share tons of verses that speak to us in the midst of a quarrel (Love covers a multitude of sins; A soft answer turns away wrath; Be kind to one another) but I want to emphasize just one. Ephesians 4:29 states this, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Think of the words that you say as either logs or water. Will this add to the fire or will it put the fire out and help build up that other person? I love that phrase, “may give grace to those who hear”. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. That other person may not deserve kind or healing words but that is what we are supposed to give. It brings water to a firefight.
Let’s be as honest as possible. Sometimes we just want to quarrel and fight. We are angry at something and we take it out on those close to us. We get selfish and allow little things to annoy us and so we lash out. It is part of being human. It is also sinful and not ok. Give words of grace. Bring water.