Proverbs 17:19 – “Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin”
Have you noticed the increase in relational conflict and how divided we are? I fear we have become a people who value being right over relationships. But being right in a relationship is not the best strategy for connection. It mostly causes arguments, bickering, stonewalling and all negative communication strategies not only waste a lot of time but are not useful for healthy relating. Is it any wonder we have become a lonely culture? More than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling like they are left out, poorly understood and lacking companionship, according to a survey released in January 2020. Proverbs 17:1 says “Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting and conflict. The Bible recognizes that food is an essential need for survive but notice the value it places on peaceful relationships over food! It’s here that scientific studies agree with the Bible because these studies indicate that relationships are what many people count as the most significant part of their lives. It’s not what we have but who we have that matters. That doesn’t mean that we won’t disagree. The reality is that in most cases two people equate to two perspectives. We often see things differently and so we tend to approach them differently. Disagreements between people are normal and can be healthy, but how we go about resolving them matters most. The key is how to disagree without damaging the relationship, which will lead to a lot less arguing. But seeing the other person’s ‘side’ takes maturity, self-awareness, and being OK with not being ‘right.’ For a healthy relationship to grow, we need to focus less on being ‘right’ and instead aim to be understood. We are going to disagree over many different things, but who is right and who is wrong should not be our primary goal. Instead, we need to listen to each other’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions openly. This creates not only a relationship that we will enjoy but also a deep sense of connection and belonging. The need to always be right creates defensiveness, and it’s not only no fun for anyone involved but it’s an exhausting way to live. It replaces connection with competition, the need to win which inevitably leads to sin. So, what is going on when we need to be right? The need to be right all the time reveals childishness and a lack of maturity. Admitting that we make mistakes is part of growing up. Unfortunately, when we don’t grow up as the bible instructs us to do in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” we feel like admitting that we might not be right will make us feel weak and vulnerable. So, to avoid these negative feelings we have to be right and in doing so we make those around us feel like they are wrong which leads them to feel weak and vulnerable. The very thing we are afraid of feeling we put on others. Because in order for us to be right someone has to feel wrong. If you are getting into arguments that routinely escalate into heated conflict, you may be in a power struggle. People in power struggles fight more and are unable to communicate effectively. Eventually, these struggles lead to contempt and blame. We stop responding and start reacting as we resort to negative communication patterns. In Revelation chapter 6 we read about the four horsemen of the apocalypse, conquest, war, famine, and death who bring destruction to the earth. James 3:6 says we also can bring destruction when our tongue is unbridled, “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” When it comes to negative communication, I think there are also four horsemen, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. Just like the four horsemen of the apocalypse they also bring conquest, war, famine, and death to our relationships. Why are we bringing fighting, famine and ultimately death to our relationships? Because we are making it about me not we. Next time in part 2 we will look at the antidote to the four horsemen. But remember if you want to have a loving relationship especially with those closest to you, stop focusing on being right and focus on the relationship.
No one wants to be with a person who makes them feel invalid and wrong, day in and day out.
What if instead of fighting with others, whether in person or on social media you chose to fight for them with kindness and compassion.