Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17:14 NIV.
To one of the children arguing on my bus, “I told you to stop talking.” He replied, “I will, when she does. Why don’t you tell her to stop saying stuff to me? She started calling me names first.” I responded, “She will stop talking to you when you quit responding.” He looks at me in disbelief. I continued, “I just need one of you to stop first, so that I can make the other stop!” He motioned that his lips were sealed by acting like he was zipping them up. I then addressed the girl and the conversation ended.
How skilled are you at “dropping a matter”? Some couples argue the whole way to church in the car. Some children talk back always looking to have the last word. Some children respond every time they are picked on or ridiculed. Some politicians think that they have to respond to every negative comment. Some raise their voice louder and louder until they silence the other person into submission. But few have learned the skill of “dropping a matter”.
Who would you say is a good example of “dropping a matter”? This is different than the passive person who continues the argument internally but is too afraid to share out loud what they are thinking. Who do you know that walks with great humility to honor the other person by not challenging their opinions and ideas just for arguments sake?
In our most divisive culture perhaps it would be advantageous to learn the skill that Solomon provided. Solomon found that it is easier to control a quarrel by stopping it before it begins. As an American we are raised to believe in free speech and the right to express ourselves. Suggesting that we should not respond is viewed as controlling, intimidating or suppressing.
The art of holding our tongues is actually an expression of love and true friendship. Dropping a matter allows for you to still be in control of the conversation. You are now directing the intensity of the rhetoric. Use a quieter response. Let the other person know that you now understand why the issue is so important to them. Validate their feelings and perceptions by being more interested in them, rather than if you are right or wrong.
Listen to your arguments. Ask God to reveal to you some conversation exit ramps. Ask God to make you a master of the skill of “dropping a matter”. Start by “considering others as more important than yourself.”
Remember a dam break can’t be stopped by one person and it usually impacts multiple lives.
Blessings. Love y’all