We are surrounded by it all the time. Turn on the news, it is there. Tune the radio to a random station, and it is there. It has even gotten to where we entertain ourselves by watching it on so-called reality TV. Some seem to live for it and be a magnet to attract it. Others seem to go out of their way to avoid it. Love it or hate, you will find yourself in the midst of it eventually. To what thing am I referring? Conflict!
With so much conflict in the world, what does God’s word have to say on the matter? Proverbs 17 gives a couple of pieces of advice on this subject.
“Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends. To start a conflict is to release a flood; stop the dispute before it breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:9, 14 HCSB)
The first advice I see is to conceal offenses rather than gossip about them. It doesn’t take long to find something which could damage the reputation of others. (Hint: Try Googling yourself!) Whether the tidbits of knowledge are true or not does not even seem to matter much today. If it is scandalous, it spreads like wildfire. However, wisdom invites us to keep it to ourselves. By sharing it, we destroy friendships. Whether they are our own other others, friends are looking for people to trust. By concealing the offense, we promote love. Jesus said the 2nd most important commandment is loving our neighbor as ourselves. It starts with concealing offenses instead of airing them out for all to see.
The second tip is to stop disputes before they break out. To stir the pot, while entertaining, is to release destructive flood. Lives get swept up in the drama and whirlpools of conflict drag us down. Seek to proactively stop the disputes. We need to work harder at keeping peace and resolving conflict than we do at creating it.
Maybe Jesus had Proverbs 17 in mind when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…”
Let us remember to conceal offenses instead of gossiping about them and stopping disputes.