When we have a problem to quarrel with our neighbor

 

 

[Proverbs 25:8-10]

 

How is your relationship with others?  Is it okay or are you having a hard time?  How should we have relationship with people?

 

Personally, I think there are blessings in human relationships that the Lord gives.  If we love our neighbors as ourselves, according to Jesus' commandments, we will be able to enjoy the Lord’s blessings.  But if we don’t obey His commandments and love our neighbors as ourselves, we will taste the bitter fruit of human relationships.  One of those bitter fruits is quarrels.

 

Why do quarrels arise in relationships?  I looked for 7 reasons in the Bible:

 

(1)   It is foolishness.

 

Look at Proverbs 18:6 – “A fool's lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.”  Look at Proverbs 20:3 – “It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”

 

(2)   It is greed.

 

                Look at Proverbs 28:25 – “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.”

 

(3)   It is hatred.

 

Look at Proverbs 10:12 – “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.”

 

(4)   It is anger.

 

Look at Proverbs 15:18 – “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”  Look at Proverbs 29:22 – “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.”  Look at Proverbs 30:33 – “For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”

 

(5)   It is pride.

Look at Proverbs 13:10 – “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”  Look at Proverbs 22:10 - “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”

               

(6)   It is perversity.

 

Look at Proverbs 6:14 – “Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, Who spreads strife.”  Look at Proverbs 16:28 – “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”

 

(7)   It is pleasure that wage war.

 

Look at Proverbs 4:1 – “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”

 

How can you make good relationships?  Pastor John Maxwell said: ‘If you want others to feel likable and easily accessible, you need to make them comfortable first.’  Then he said that in order to make the other person comfortable, we should have the following 7 characteristics:

 

(1)   Warm heart

 

The person who makes the other person comfortable is warm and kind.  To maintain a comfortable relationship, we need to keep a warm heart.  In order to do this, we must feel the warm heart of God ourselves.  We must experience the truth that His lovingkindness is better than our lives (Ps. 63:3).  We can feel the warmth that subtly oozes from those who have warm heart that is becoming filled with God's lovingkindness.

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(2)   Respect for individual differences.

 

We cannot maintain the comfortable relationship with a person who doesn’t see the other person's strengths properly and rely only on our own strengths and subtly underlines the other's weaknesses.  We won't want to be with someone who wants to give us the impression that someone is wrong in his own selfish standard even though we are just different from each other.  We feel comfortable with those who respect each other and try to broaden our understanding among the differences.

 

(3)   Consistency of the mood.

 

John Maxwell says: ‘...  People we have easy access to are always expressing a consistent mood.  They are stable and have a predictable state.  It's always the same every time we see it, so it's easy to predict what kind of treatment we'll get from them’ (Maxwell).  We may feel good or bad several times a day.  However, it can be difficult to maintain a truly comfortable relationship if we don't have a sense of security.


(4)   Meticulous consideration for the other's feelings.

 

A comfortable person quickly notices that the other person's mood is different from that of himself and adjusts the reaction accordingly to the person's mood and emotions (Maxwell).  One of the ways to get it right is that the comfortable person doesn't listen to our feelings.  I think he listens to us with warm heart.  I think he is a person who knows how to express his feelings sincerely and appropriately, not listening to us in an absent sort of way but sincerely.  In doing so, the other person feels a feeling similar to himself in the person who is comfortable, so that he opens his heart more and more.

 

(5)   A person who freely discloses his flaws.

 

‘No one makes others more uncomfortable than those who always pretend to be perfect’ (Maxwell).  Somehow, people like this don’t smell like a human.  We don't feel warmth from a perfectionist who tries to look so perfect.  People who aren’t honest with themselves can't be honest in human relations.  So I think they feel that it is something more formal and mechanical than a comfortable human relationship or a human relationship that feels humanity.

 

(6)   Ability to forgive easily and to seek forgiveness quickly.

 

‘The person we are comfortable with is always humble because he knows human weakness well and reveals his shortcomings without hesitation.  Because he is humble, he asks for forgiveness quickly and forgives easily’ (Maxwell).  I don’t think comfortable relationships are achieved because of each other’s perfection.  I think the comfortable relationships are not forgetting God’s forgiving grace and enjoying forgiving each other in the midst of being able to hurt each other due to each other's "limits and weaknesses" and each other's weaknesses and inadequacies.

 

(7)   Honesty.

 

If we want to maintain the comfortable relationship, we have to be honest.  Be honest.  We have to have the courage to show ourselves the way we are.  What are we afraid of?  If we are afraid of how people see us, and if we are worried about what people will say about us, I think it will be difficult to keep our relationships simple, pure, and truthful.

 

This is what the Bible Proverbs 25:9a says: “If you argue your case with a neighbor, ….”  Focusing on this verse, I would like to consider two lessons from the Bible on what to do when we have problems with our neighbor.

 

First, when we have problems with our neighbor, we should not go to court hastily.


Look at Proverbs 25:8 – “do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?”  What does it mean?  This means don't sue too hastily when there is a conflict in our relationship with our neighbor.  What is the reason?  The reason is because we are too hastily to sue our conflicted neighbor, which can lead us to shame our neighbor.  Think about it.  What happens to the accused person if he fails to win the case after suing too hastily?

 

Perhaps the most ideal situation is that we have a good relationship with our neighbor, so no quarrels occur.  I am sure that is our desirable relationship with our neighbor.  Why is it desirable?  Why should we have good relationship with our neighbor?  The reason is because Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mt. 19:19, 22:39).  But even if we love our neighbor as ourselves, what should we do if our neighbor rejects that love and quarrels with us?  What should we do, especially if we didn't do anything wrong and our neighbor sues us?  If there are no lawsuits in relation to our neighbors at all, nothing is more desirable than that.  But even if we try to live righteously, it is inevitable that, in our social life, it is unavoidable that any matters of lawsuits, voluntary or unintentional, arise.  I think we ask the question whether we have to go to the court of the world and always give up and lose money or not.  What should we do?

 

On February 24, 1997, a pastor who led the seminar under the title of Biblical Understanding of Christian Court Cases at the 1st Legal Seminar for Reconciliation and Holiness held by the Christian Penalty Center at the 100th Anniversary Hall of the Korean Church.  When I read the article by that pastor and the lawyer Myung-soo Joo,  he mentioned about 13 questions that Christians should ask before they go to court (Internet):

 

(1)   What would be God’s glory about me in this case? (1 Cor. 10:31)

 

(2)   If I could only live the next 6 months, how much time would I waste on this case? (Ps. 90:12)

 

(3)   What is my true motive for committing this lawsuit, is it not retaliation? (1 Cor. 13, Mt. 5:38-48)

 

(4)   Does my lawsuit dishonor God's glory before other believers, or can I tell the story of my lawsuit in front of other believers without hesitation? (Rom. 14:13, 1 Tim 4:12)

 

(5)   Does my lawsuit dishonor God in front of unbelievers, or is my lawsuit hindering them from accepting the gospel? (1 Corinthians 6:1-8, 10:32-33)

 

(6)   Does my lawsuit dishonor God's glory in front of the other person, in front of the other's lawyer, or in front of my lawyer? (Rom.15:1-3)

 

(7)   Can I testify to the gospel to unbelievers while in this case?

 

(8)   Can I pray to God to help me win this case?

 

(9)   Wouldn't my lawsuit result in harm to an innocent third party? (Mk. 9:42)

 

(10)           Can I do my best for my family, my housekeeping, and myself while in this case?

 

(11)           Were other solutions appropriate?  (a) Was forgiveness appropriate? (b) Reconciliation

and compromise were appropriate end?  (c) Have you ever met the other person and heard his opinion? (d) Have you ever looked for an attorney or other mediator to help you with the reconciliation?

 

(12)           Have I ever been so zealous to reconcile or forgive as much as to assert my right? (Mt.

6:12-15)

 

(13)           Will I do my best to uncover the truth, and will I cleanly surrender to the result judged  

accordingly?'

 

About three years ago (Nov. 2011), I meditated on the word of 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 under the heading ‘Is it okay to sue?’  According to Roman law at the time of the apostle Paul, the Jews allowed their disputes to be settled among themselves by arbitration (Hodge).  So for a long time the Jews settled their disputes privately or in a synagogue court.  And they refused to bring their problems to the pagan court.  The reason for this is because the Jews considered taking their problems to a pagan court as an indication of the inability of God to solve the problems of His people by His biblical principles (MacArthur).  Nevertheless, in solving their problems, the Christians of the Corinthian church didn’t solve their problems before God and the saints with the biblical principles of God.  Rather, it was a lawsuit in front of unbelievers and unrighteous people who didn’t believe in Jesus (v. 1).  So, in shock and grief, Paul said, “How can it be?” “How dare you sue each other?” (v. 1)  What was Paul concerned about?  It wasn’t because the members of the Corinthian church will face an unfair trial in the courts of the world.  Paul's concern was that the members of the Corinthian church didn’t show much respect for the authority and power of the church (MacArthur).  That is why Paul told the members of the Corinthian church: “I say this to your shame Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren” (v. 5).  What does it mean?   Paul said that it would be a shame to try to solve the problem not between brothers in the church, but by taking a lawsuit in the courts of the world outside the church.

 

You are, as the Apostle Paul's concern, that we Christians now have little respect for the authority and power of the church.  If we respect the authority and power of the church, how do we bring the disputes of the church to the courts of the world and fight each other by lawsuit?  Now, aren't we taking the disputes in the church as well as the disputes within the presbytery to the courts of the world and fighting with each other in lawsuits?  We should be ashamed.  Now, we must be ashamed of family matters, church matters, and none of us who are wise among us, leaving the courts of the world with unbelievers and lawyers.  We should no longer do things that are shameful.  We should no longer be doing things that will be criticized by the world.  We should no longer do things that are ashamed of the world.  We should no longer sue our neighbor too hastily when we have a problem that would quarrel with our neighbor.

 

Second and last, when we have problems with our neighbor, we should settle quietly between the two.

 

                I think the closest of our neighbors is our spouse.  However, we may have enough problems to quarrel with our closest spouse.  What should we do then?  My personal opinion is that marriage quarrels should be resolved by the couple themselves.  However, sometimes the couple quarrels and becomes emotional, and makes the problem bigger by involving a third party.  The couple shouldn’t do this.  The third person I'm thinking of here could be a parent, but I think especially of our children.  How would it affect our children if we quarrel and intervene with our children?  It will never be able to make a good impact to them.

 

Look at Proverbs 25:9 – “If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man's confidence.”  King Solomon is telling us to settle quietly between the two and not to divulge any other secrets if there is a problem that would quarrel with our neighbor.  If we think about the word that tells us to settle quietly between the two, in connection with the words of verse 8, it means that when two people quarrel, we should not bring the problem to the courtroom, but the two should solve it quietly.  When I thought of this lesson, the word “settlement” came to my mind.  Before going to court because of a lawsuit, if we can settle the matter quietly, we will agree with the complainant and the accused person outside the courtroom.  In particular, in verse 9, King Solomon tells us to quietly settle the problem between the two when there is the problem with our neighbor, and says, “do not betray another man's confidence.”  When two people quarrel, who betray another man's confidence?  Look at Proverbs 11:13 and 20:19 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (11:13), “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (20:19).  The Bible says that it is “a man who talks too much” who betrays the confidence.  The lesson that these words teach us is that if we have argue our case with our neighbor, then we must be careful with our words if that neighbor is the one who talks too much.  I think we shouldn't show all the sincerity in our hearts.

 

So why did King Solomon tell us not to betray other person's confidence (secret matter) when we are with our neighbor?  Why is the Bible telling us not to betray his confidence when we have a quarrelsome problem?  The reason is written in Proverbs 25:10 – “or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation.”  The reason is because if we betray someone else's confidence when we quarrel, the person who listens to that other's secret will embarrass us and as a result our reputation will be bad.  This is what Dr. Yoon-sun Park said: ‘Why do we be ashamed when we betray someone’s confidence?  The reason is because the principle is to speak only to solve the problem of the dispute.  However, aside from that problem, it is a personal attack to talk about the other's secret shortcomings.  Anytime a personal attack is not meant to defy the truth, it is a vulgar act.  Even though the other's secret work belongs to his private matter, it is rude to invade it.  Throughout his life, he has been embarrassed by his words, and it is difficult to escape the hatred of the other person.  Therefore, when we inevitably quarrel, we must calmly testify to the problem only’ (Park).  I think it makes sense.  When we quarrel, we should not talk (leak) about other people's secrets.  Rather we should only talk to solve the problem of the dispute.  I think there are times when we can't do that.  When we think about why, I think one of the reasons is because we cannot focus on solving the problem of our quarrels and focus only on that problem.  So we think that the other person caused the problem.  That's why I think it's a personal attack on that person.  And the reason why we personally attack the other person is because we have “desires that battle within us” (Jam. 4:1).

 

We must fight the desires that battle within us.  Look at 1 Peter 2:11 – “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”  We must fight the desires of the flesh that fight against our souls.  One of the desires of the body is the desires to to battle within us.  Therefore, we must fight these fighting desires within us and overcome them.  Then, when we fight or quarrel with our neighbors, we should try to quietly solve the problem as two people.  We should never betray other people's confidence.  Therefore, we must be people with good reputation for others.

 

While we live in this land, it would be nice to always be in harmony with everyone.  But I think it's impossible.  The reason is because all of us have a sinful instinct.  That’s why there are times when we quarrel with other people in conflict.  So what should we do when we have a problem with our neighbor?  In Proverbs 25:8-10, we learned two lessons.  First of all, we must not sue our neighbor too hastily.  Also, when we have the problem that would quarrel with our neighbor, we must quietly settle between us.  I hope and pray that all of us who humbly receive and obey these two lessons and are well able to do the work of reconciling our relationships with our neighbor.