When our lives intersect momentarily with a quarrelsome person, it can be a distasteful experience. Though it may only be a fleeting inconvenience we are glad to leave that person behind us when we move on with the day. However, when our life does not simply intersect with a difficult person, but instead comes to a screeching halt, the strength required of us is taken to a new level as our true mettle is tested. When our interaction is limited and temporary, we can easily hide our distaste and annoyance behind a façade of cordiality. But when someone we at first thought was simply an irritating house guest becomes a permanent resident, or when we arrive at work to find that our cantankerous coworker has become an irksome office fixture instead of a temporary fill-in, we are forced to realize that this person has become part of our station in life according to God’s plan, so it is time to learn to not only cope with them, but love them in spite of their less attractive traits. As we interact with them day in and day out, our patience is tested immensely. We are barraged daily with insults and stubbornness that bring to bear all our weaknesses and we find that we are not as tolerant as we thought we were. When we are inundated with condescending tones and feel exhausted by irritating arguments or vindictive jabs, we can easily become emotionally drained. We cannot, on our own, be strong enough to endure and carry on, let alone find the grace to love this person. Without the calming effect of His holy word, we will be consumed by strife and bitterness. Each time we are baited to argue by this quarrelsome person, God is waiting with outstretched arms to receive us and advise us if only we will hold our tongue long enough to consult with Him and accept His help and comfort. Though we cannot control their behavior, we can control our own, resisting the urge to snap back at a slighting insult from them and allow things to snowball into an unbridled all-day argument. With His ruling hand on our heart guiding us, and His wisdom in our ear, we can act as the calm in the center of a hurricane. If we remain focused on Him, constantly centering ourselves on His glory, we can remain peaceful and serene no matter how chaotic and quarrelsome our surroundings are. If we distract ourselves with arguing, we stunt our spiritual growth, grieving our Father, and if we insult those who insult us, we not only steal the vengeance that belongs to our Father, but we feed our souls a toxic poison. When we find ourselves tempted, we must call on our Father’s loving presence to fill us with restraint and discipline our mouths, keeping them from damaging others and ourselves. If we will be patient and remain silent, He will defend us infinitely better than we can defend ourselves, and if we make our wounds vulnerable to Him, He will sooth them and heal them as He pours out His love. Through His grace, we can find the strength to forgive yesterday, today, and the inevitable injuries of tomorrow, liberating ourselves from the bondage of resentment, lifting the weight of bitterness. Rather than dreading each day with this person, we can look forward to the new ways we can grow in our Lord as we face each challenge head on, however imperfectly. The more we accept His love and His help, the more we will have peace and joy in these trials. Instead of being eroded by the abrasive situation that comes with living with a quarrelsome person, we can be worn smooth and sculpted into a useful tool of God.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” Romans 12:18-19
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil” 2 Timothy 2:23-24
“I said, ‘I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.’” Psalms 39:1
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14
“It is not what goes into a mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:11
“The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14
“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22