It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
Stop fighting! Life is too short. Peace is too precious. Noble men end conflict and strife. Love and unity are godly and profitable. Are you a peacemaker? Do you hate quarrels, strife, and trouble? Do you love quietness, peace, and harmony? End every fight you can.
Godly men hate fighting; they back out of conflicts involving themselves; they help bring peace when others are fighting. It is a credit to their reputations and religion. It is their glory (Pr 19:11). But fools, void of godly character and integrity, provoke others in various ways to continue conflict and strife. They are obnoxious nuisances in the world.
The proverb’s clauses are contrasted by “but.” The fool of the second one is contrasted to a wise man in the first. The first clause does not state it is a wise man, because that is unnecessary, given the second clause. By the same method of contrast, the meddling of the second clause is a fool’s conduct and speech that cause or increase fighting. Furthermore, in contrast to the wise man’s deserved honor, the fool should be despised.
Strife is fighting. A wise man avoids fights. He knows that strife, even in his heart, is devilish confusion and evil from hell (Jas 3:14-16). He knows that God condemns strife and commands peace (Rom 13:13; Gal 5:19-23; Eph 4:1-3; Phil 2:3; Jas 3:17-18). He knows at best that fighting marks a carnal Christian, but most likely a child of hell (I Cor 3:3; Titus 3:3; Jas 4:1). He chooses the blessed course of a peacemaker (Matt 5:9).
A wise man is honored for not fighting. It is his glory to pass over a transgression (Pr 19:11), to be slow to wrath (Pr 14:29), to rule his spirit (Pr 16:32), to avoid fights altogether rather than end them later (Pr 17:14), to proceed slowly with adversaries (Pr 25:8), and to discuss personal offences in private without telling others (Pr 25:9-10).
But a fool is to be despised for causing conflicts. He is hated for quick anger (Pr 14:17), pride (Pr 13:10), repeating offences (Pr 17:9), and sharing them with others (Pr 16:27-28). Good men want to take these troublemakers and flog them (Pr 18:6). Such fools meddle in controversies by stirring things up that would otherwise settle down to peace.
Worldly men believe fighting is manly, because they cannot think higher than junkyard dogs. It takes far more character, discipline, and strength to resist fighting than it does to give in to the childish emotions and devilish urges that call for it. God surely inspired this proverb. Men think honor must be defended by fighting, but God honors the man who will not fight. Only proud, wicked beasts feel they must strike another blow at another.
The Pharisees, religious fundamentalists for man’s basest lusts, taught, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” by applying a civil law to personal offences (Matt 5:38). But Jesus praised the godly man, who turns the other cheek to the man who smites one (Matt 5:39). Only base fools think they must protect their person and reputation by biting others for any hurt. Great men end controversies, forgive injuries, and befriend even enemies.
Where is fighting and strife in your life? Is it in your marriage, because neither spouse will back down and make peace? Learn the lesson of this proverb and do something honorable – humble yourself and make peace. Is there conflict between you and your children? You are the parent! Take the high road and end the conflict by making peace.
How honorable are you? Can you return a soft answer to an angry man, even when he is wrong (Pr 15:1)? Are you a little child in malice (I Cor 14:20)? Can you forgive everyone, even those quarreling with you (Col 3:12-15)? Do you hate bitterness and love tenderheartedness (Eph 4:31-32)? Can you recognize that most fighting for principle is really only for pride (Pr 13:10; 21:24)? Are you willing to be defrauded (I Cor 6:7)? Do you follow your heavenly Father and seek good for your enemies (Matt 5:43-48)?
If you know you offended someone, even long ago, go to them to restore the relationship (Matt 5:23-26). God will not accept your worship until you do this. If someone has offended you, the best choice is simply to forgive and forget it (Pr 19:11; Col 3:13). But if you cannot forgive them, then gently confront them alone about it (Matt 18:15-18).
Consider the greatest mediation, peacemaking, and reconciliation in history. The holy and just God of heaven was angry at all men for their sins (Ps 5:4-6; 7:11; 11:4-6). And men were filled with pride and contempt against Him, for they had chosen to follow His enemy the devil instead (Ps 10:4; 14:1-3; Eph 2:1-3). The blessed God in infinite wisdom sent the Man Christ Jesus, who stepped between both parties and took their full rage, forever making peace between God and His chosen children (Eph 1:3-14; Rom 5:6-11).