Saturday, March 30, 2013

Proverbs 17: How to Promote Peace

Prov 17:1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Prov 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Prov 17:13 If a man pays back evil for good, evil will never leave his house. 
Prov 17:14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
Prov 17:19 He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.
Prov 17:20 A man of perverse heart does not prosper; he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.
Prov 17:27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. 
Prov 17:28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

The opposite of peace is strife. Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." The wise are peace-makers and the foolish are trouble-makers. Proverbs 17 contains some useful tips on how to maintain peace in our relationships with others.
  • Peace Begins at Home (Prov 17:1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife): The home should be a place of peace and quiet, not striving. A simple and frugal life with harmony among family members is definitely a more welcoming  place to come home to than a house with plenty to eat and also plenty of quarrelling. 
  • Don't Nag (Prov 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends): Nagging does not promote friendship -- it causes others to stay away from us. True love is forgiving and forgiveness means overlooking an offence, not repeating it again and again. 
  • Don't retaliate (Prov 17:13 If a man pays back evil for good, evil will never leave his house): Jesus taught us to bless those who curse us, to return good for evil, not evil for evil. Retaliation and revenge is a sure path to ruining every relationship we have. There is a Chinese saying that if we want to take revenge, we have to dig two graves--one for our enemy and one for ourselves.
  • Stop a Quarrel before it starts (Prov 17:14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out): Like a dam, once the breach occurs, you can't stop the rush of water that floods the land. So, the only way to stop a flood in a dam is to not allow the dam to break. If there is a trickle of water, quickly plug the hole in the dam. So, when we sense someone is getting angry, drop the subject immediately. It has been said, "Winning an argument is a sure way to lose a friend."
  • Quarreling is Sin (Prov 17:19 He who loves a quarrel loves sin): The moment we quarrel, we are opening ourselves to sins of verbal abuse and reckless words. So, if we love to quarrel, it shows we love to sin.
  • Speak Truthfully (Prov 17:20 he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble): Use our tongue to promote peace by speaking truthfully. Lies will hurt ultimately when the truth is found out.
  • Choose Your words carefully (Prov 17:27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered): Self-control is tongue-control. The wise chooses his words carefully. Speaking our mind is not always a virtue. When a person is not ready for our advice, it's best to keep it to ourselves, no matter how knowledgeable we may think we are.
  • Bite Your Tongue (Prov 17:28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue). To be wise, speak less. It has been said that a fool is not a fool until he opens his mouth. So, listen more, talk less. 
Strife is a result of not exercising wisdom--whether it happens in the home, the workplace, our neighbourhood or even in churches. Wisdom is required to be peace-makers. Peace-making goes beyond not creating troubles, but promoting reconciliation when a breach in relationships has occurred.

Father, help us be peace-makers wherever You have placed us. Grant us wisdom to promote peace and reconciliation so that we may be like You Son, Jesus Christ, who came to make peace and promote goodwill among peoples. Amen.

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