Bridges on Proverbs 20:3
 
Charles Bridges on Proverbs 20:3
 
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3.  It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
 
The opposition of this precept to the maxim of the world proves it to be from God. A world of sin must always be a world of strife, because governed by “the wisdom that descendeth not from above,” the parent of “strife, confusion, and every evil work.” (James 3:14-16.) And yet an evil world is a fine theater for the display of the grace of God, in the fruits of “the wisdom that is from above” — meekness, gentleness. (Ib. 17, 18.) We have been before reminded, that “it is the glory of a man to pass over transgression” (Chapter 19:11); here — to cease from strife. Many from the love of quiet, if not from a better motive, would overlook an injury. Yet if they were embroiled in strife, they would feel their honour at stake, not in ceasing from it, but in following it up, striking the last blow. Far more difficult is it to gather back the waters once let out, than to restrain them within their proper bounds. To “leave off contention,”† especially when we see that we are in the wrong; or — if in the right — that no good will come from it — this “is an high honour for a man, a noble triumph over the flesh.”† Abraham thus ceased from strife by disinterested concession. (Genesis 13:8, 9.) Isaac shewed himself a man of peace under the vexatious annoyance of the Philistines.( (Ib. 26:17-31.) The prophet “went his way,” to prevent a further kindling of anger. (Jeremiah 28:11.) But how much more commonly is strife fed by the folly of man’s pride, than extinguished by a peaceful and loving spirit!† The meddling fool rushes into strife as his element:† and thus becomes a torment to himself, and a plague to those around him. To return “a soft answer” to “grievous words,”† and to keep out of the way of an angry person,† is the path of wisdom. To “put on meekness and long-suffering,” and to “let the peace of God rule in our hearts” — these are the marks of “the elect of God,” following the example of our Divine Master. (Colossians 3:12-15.)