He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
Real men love to fight. That is a lie! Fighting is sin, and it leads to other sins. Men that love to fight love sin, because that is what they do by their contentious, vindictive, and violent spirits. Godly men are peacemakers (Matt 5:9; Rom 12:18; Jas 3:17-18). The only fighting you can justify is holy contending for the truth (Neh 13:23-28; Jude 1:3).
Real men look out for number one. That is also a lie! Looking to protect and exalt yourself is arrogance, conceit, and pride. Men that like to promote themselves are looking to be destroyed, because that is what is coming (Pr 16:18; 18:12; 29:23). Godly men are humble and meek and avoid publicity as far as possible (Pr 15:33; 18:12; 29:23).
The two clauses in the proverb are strongly connected. The first clause condemns fighting as sin, and the second clause promises destruction to the proud. What is the connection? It is pride that causes fighting (Pr 28:25). “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Pr 13:10). All fighting would end quickly without human pride.
Consider the first clause. What a sober warning! If you like to argue, debate, fight, quarrel, or wrangle, you must love sin, because that is what you are doing. But God said, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:31-32).
If you smell a fight starting, stop it! Fighting will escalate, unless one party ends it (Pr 17:14; 26:21). Avoid angry men, because they foolishly love to fight (Pr 15:18; 22:24-25; 29:22). Reject hateful men, because it is love that ends fights (Pr 10:12; 17:9; I Pet 4:8). Be a peacemaker whenever and wherever you can, for such are great in the sight of God and shall be rewarded (Matt 5:9; Rom 12:18; 14:17-19; I Cor 1:10; Eph 4:3; Jas 3:17-18).
Reject talebearers, because they cause fights (Pr 16:28; 26:20). If you see a scorner – one who despises correction, get rid of him, because he also causes fights (Pr 22:10). Fighting comes from the lusts in your sinful flesh, which must be rejected (Gal 5:19-21; Jas 4:1). Do your best to isolate yourself and friends from any contentious souls that like to fight.
Consider the second clause. Another sober warning! If you promote yourself, you will be destroyed. Your gate is your estate, reputation, or influence. Do not exalt these things. Pride brings destruction (Pr 16:18). Humility is far better (Pr 16:19; Ps 138:6). God and good men will honor and reward you, if you humbly and quietly fulfill your role in life.
Let other men praise you, but do not do it yourself (Pr 27:2). Take a reserved approach to public gatherings (Pr 25:6-7). Learn God’s way to be exalted – by abasing yourself (Luke 14:11). Be like John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God; He will exalt you (I Pet 5:6; Jas 5:6,10).
Do what you can to isolate yourself and those you love from the arrogant and proud, for they will bring God’s judgment and also rejection by good men. They should not be your friends or allowed in businesses or churches. A haughty spirit must be trained out of children. Promote humility any way you can to bring the favor of God and man.