Proverbs 6.19 — Stirring up conflict

The seventh and last abomination to God’s soul: “a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Conflict is part of life, but to consistently be the generator of that conflict is a sin.

So let’s talk some more. In the book of Philippians, Paul repeatedly addresses the subject of conflict. It must have been part of their church as much as it is part of many of our churches, and many of our lives. But as Paul (and Solomon) teaches us, conflict isn’t the problem; a contentious spirit, demeanor, and behavior are the problem.

Phil. 1.27: “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” That’s a good watchword for all conflict and disagreements. But then he goes on to teaching them to stand firm in “one spirit, contending…”. Paul is talking about teamwork. As athletes on a team strive for the same goal. As soldiers contend with their forces against another’s in battle.

Alexander the Great changed warfare. Instead of a battle being every man for himself as the two sides clashed, Alexander had his soldiers hook their shields together to fight as one unit. And because they acted as a unit instead of individuals, they were invincible.

How is it possible that so many different individuals, who have different perspectives and different opinions, work in unity? He explains it in Phil. 2.2-9. “Be like-minded. It refers to the attitude of the mind—to the WAY one thinks rather than WHAT. It allows people to disagree without generating conflict.
Same love for God – driven by the same urge and desire
One in spirit – souls that beat together, in tune with Christ and each other.
One in purpose – like clocks that strike at the same moment. Identity of ideas and harmony of feelings, despite not always agreeing.
Exclude selfish ambition and vain conceit
Look to the interests of others
Be a self-emptying, humble servant like Jesus.

It is the same qualities taught in Proverbs that make it possible: meekness, faith, power, and wisdom.

Phil. 2.14 says we should do everything without arguing. Mark Steele said, “Jesus can turn water into wine, but he can’t turn your whining into anything.” Touche.

We are called to be peacemakers (Mt. 5.9), and as much as it depends on us, to live in peace with all men (Rom. 12.18; 1 Cor. 7.15; 2 Cor. 13.11; 1 Thes. 5.13; Heb. 12.14).

That’s the difference between disagreement and conflict. There’s nothing wrong with disagreement. It’s not only expected, but it can be tremendously fruitful in many ways. We’re not supposed to just close our eyes and act stupid and agree to whatever anyone says in the name of a false unity.

What’s wrong is the contentious spirit that wants to push his or her own ideas, pursue one’s own position or opinion, is motivated by pride, just wants to put others in their place, is selfishly ambitious, etc. etc. That’s what destroys community.

8 thoughts on “Proverbs 6.19 — Stirring up conflict”

  1. I was reading the six then this one struck me. I’m in awe of this composition. I truly do enjoy this reading material it makes sense and was clear. God is so wonderful and yes life is full of give and take that meekness,faith, Power, and Wisdom is all saying it. Iam a dinner I fail daily but, today this uplifted me. I was just studying Nothing better than the word. Amen.

  2. Appreciate your exposition on this topic. I’m debating (and praying) whether I should send it to a brother who seems to get juiced by stirring up conflict!

  3. Reading these responses is uplifting, Jim Walton (9/29/21).
    Answered a question, I was pondering.
    I have a grandaughter who stirs up conflict, between myself and her mother (my daughter). She has manipulating behaviors she lies, cheap, and steals. As her grandmother, I DO NOT YELL, SCREAM NOR SAY HURTFUL THINGS. Yet I do hold her accountable I ask why she does what she does, and what consequence could be. She talks to me saying she understands, she is sorry and will work on the areas. Then goes to the parents and cause conflict, because she lies about what was said. They do not ask me, yet it is obvious they believe her. Even though they know her behaviors, and that I would never do or say anything that would be hurtful to her. I am toren because I see where she is headed and without proper accountability she will become a negative statistic.

    1. It sounds like a difficult situation. I’m not a trained counselor, so I don’t want to come across as giving counseling advice, but having had three children myself and being a youth pastor for 35 years, I know that some kids will manipulate and lie so as to divide those in authority over them. It’s a technique for getting what they want. These kids often want to do what they want to do, when the want to do it, and will use whatever manipulative techniques to achieve that end. Often the best strategy is communication. I know my wife and I needed to communicate well during those years so that our kids didn’t play us one against each other, or, as you have said, misconstrue my words with Mom so they get what they want when they wanted it. The solution was for my wife and I to have a united front, going out of our way to communicate to each other so we couldn’t be played. Possibly stay in touch with your daughter when these things happen; tell her what happened and what you said. It could prevent your words being lied about, and it could also help your daughter realize she’s being played, too. It’s just a thought. As I said, I’m not a trained counselor.

      Any parent, teacher, coach, mentor, or counselor who works with teenagers quickly learns that when you hear a story from a teen, you’re only getting part of the story. We always listen with respect, and there could be a lot of truth in there to which we have to pay attention, but always with a grain of salt. There IS another side. One learns to never believe 100% of what a teenager says without verifying it. They often have a limited view of the world, an overemphasized emotional response, and the lack of life experience to exhibit true wisdom. Their view is often skewed by their adolescent perspective.

      Our culture teaches kids to be disrespectful of authority, not tame the hurtfulness out of their words, and to lie with abandon as long as it feeds one’s self interest. As believers and as parents, the cards are stacked against us. But a consistent and united front can go a long way.

      You are right that without proper accountability there lies great danger. Accountability, discipline, respect, and truth are building blocks of a healthy family.

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