Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
You better have a good reason to debate, fight, or sue anyone. You may defend yourself if real harm has been done. But God condemns petty, hypocritical, or vengeful responses. There better be significant injury involved, or He will judge you for hatred (Matt 7:1-5).
How serious are the consequences of debating or fighting for no good cause? The great God of heaven hates such contrary, froward, obnoxious, and wicked men (Pr 3:31-32). He curses the families of men that will not get along with others and that like to stir up trouble (Pr 3:33). He will scorn the scorners and bring shame upon fools (Pr 3:34-35).
Of course, contentious men always say they have a reason for fighting with others. In their perverted sense of justice, they are right to argue, fight, or sue most anyone for damages. But God knows the hearts of all men, and He will despise their petty, personal, hypocritical, or vengeful thoughts. He will be froward to froward men (Ps 18:25-26).
Wisdom includes knowledge and ability to get along with others. Wise men are glorious, because they know they should defer anger and ignore minor offences (Pr 19:11). They know that if they are unmerciful in holding men accountable for their small offences, then God Himself will not forgive them their trespasses (Matt 6:14-15; 18:21-35).
What causes some men to be contentious? Pride! Only pride (Pr 13:10)! It is not an innate sense of justice or righteousness that causes them to criticize, debate, fight, or oppose others. It is the pride of their wicked hearts that refuses to be merciful, refuses to overlook small offences, and refuses to forgive others fully and easily. Pride is damning. You can call it principle if you want, but God and all good men know it is only pride.
How about women that nag? Same thing! Their pride finds pleasure in correcting their husbands. They love to remind him about every fault or mistake he has made. Resenting their role, they show haughtiness and selfishness by contending and brawling. No wonder Solomon repeatedly warned against such women (Pr 19:13; 21:9,19; 25:24; 27:15).
Peace and unity, godly goals of wise men, require overlooking minor offences or faults of others. Only when life or home is threatened is there cause for fighting. Jesus Christ taught that even anger in your heart or name-calling without a righteous cause is murder (Matt 5:21-22). Let that charge sink in. And responding with force to minor offences is of the same character (Matt 5:38-42). Let someone slap you on a cheek. So what? If someone sues you for your coat, go ahead and give them a cloak as well. Make peace!
In earlier generations of America, children had a little rhyme that originated around 1862, “Stick and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” This is similar to the wisdom of this proverb. If you are in danger of having your bones broken, say by an intruder at night, you may defend your home, family and self (Ex 22:2). But being called names only gives you an opportunity to respond in kindness (Rom 12:17-21).
Solomon also taught against vengeance, “Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips. Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work” (Pr 24:19-20). The golden rule taught by Jesus Christ is treating others as you want them to treat you, not the way they may have treated you. Can you by God’s grace flush all revenge and choose to love your enemies?
A contentious spirit is from hell, but a gentle and peaceful spirit is from heaven (Jas 3:14-18). What a great difference! What a glorious opportunity for you to show a difference in your character and make a difference in the world. What a precious opportunity and privilege to please God and men and to promote peace wherever you go. What will you do today? Fight over anything? Or forgive everything? Be a peacemaker.