Quarreling is unfortunately a common occurrence in human relationships. Even among Christians, disagreements and conflicts happen. As believers, what does the Bible say about quarreling? How should we handle disagreements with love, wisdom and grace? This post will explore the meaning of quarreling in the Bible and provide key takeaways for Christians.
The Bible mentions quarreling in various contexts. Quarreling occurs between individuals, among God’s people, and as a general human tendency. Here are some key points the Bible makes about quarreling:
- Quarreling stems from our sinful nature of selfishness, pride and lack of self-control
- God commands us not to quarrel and warns against its dangers
- Peacemakers are blessed, quarrelsome people warned
- Love, patience, wisdom and humility are antidotes to quarreling
- Quarreling damages relationships and our Christian witness
- God can redeem conflicts and arguments for His glory and purposes
As we explore biblical texts on quarreling, we’ll gain insight into God’s perspective. We’ll see principles and practical guidance to deal with disagreements in godly ways as Christians. The goal is to become more Christlike in speech, conduct and love in the midst of conflict.
What Does the Bible Say About Quarreling?
Let’s explore some of the key biblical passages that address quarreling and consider their implications:
Quarreling Comes from Our Sinful Nature
But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (James 3:14-16)
James traces quarreling to our sinful tendencies of bitter envy and selfish ambition. When we insist on our own way at the expense of others, conflict ensues. As humans, our natural instincts often lead us to quarrel rather than seek peace. But as believers, we have God’s wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome these tendencies and relate to others with love.
God Commands Us Not to Quarrel
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. (Hebrews 12:14-15)
God’s Word explicitly instructs us to avoid quarreling and strive for peace in all our relationships. We are to be humble, gentle and avoid speaking evil even when we disagree. The alternative – bitterness, strife and disunity – leaves many spiritually defiled. As believers, we must uphold God’s standard of grace-filled speech and conduct that promotes true peace.
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who actively seek and create peace. As His followers, promoting peace is central to our calling. We should take the initiative to bring harmony and resolve conflicts rather than perpetuate discord. Our lives and speech are to reflect our divine heritage as God’s sons and daughters.
Wisdom, Humility and Self-Control Prevent Quarrels
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19 NASB)
The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression. (Proverbs 19:11)
Godly wisdom seeks to diffuse rather than escalate conflicts. Humility and self-control allow us to overlook minor offences and not take disagreements personally. Thoughtful, careful speech minimizes strife. As believers we are called to develop Christlike humility, patience and wisdom in relating to others.
Love Covering Transgressions
Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins. (Proverbs 10:12)
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
While hatred feeds discord, God’s love motivates us to forgive others and mend broken relationships. Instead of sinking to the level of those provoking strife, we can take the high road of love. This applies even when the other party is primarily at fault. Our priority as Christians is expressing Christ’s unconditional love, not winning arguments.
Quarreling Harms Our Witness and Relationships
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. (Titus 3:1-2)
But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
Quarreling contradicts the Christian imperative to be gentle, humble and patient. It damages our witness to unbelievers and hinders ministry. As God’s servants we must prioritize others’ spiritual welfare over proving ourselves right. Even when correcting false teaching we are to do so with humility and grace.
God Can Redeem Conflict for Good
While humans quarrel out of sinful motives, God can use conflict to ultimately bring about redemption and unity. Scripture records instances where God permitted and used contention to accomplish His purposes.
- Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery out of jealousy; later Joseph told them: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
- Esther risked her life to expose Haman’s plot against the Jews, sparking conflict that led to Israel’s preservation. (Esther 7)
- Peter and Paul disputed sharply over Jewish customs but came to a place of mutual understanding. (Galatians 2:11-21)
- Euodia and Syntyche disagreed and disrupted the Philippian church. Paul exhorted them to reconcile and restore unity. (Philippians 4:2-3)
While avoiding unnecessary conflict, we can trust God to use strained relationships and clashes to produce something good and refining if we respond humbly and biblically.
Key Takeaways on Quarreling
To summarize key biblical principles on quarreling:
- Quarreling stems from sinful desires and often escalates strife rather than promoting peace
- God commands believers to avoid quarreling and pursue harmony with all people
- Peacemakers are blessed; engaging in or perpetuating conflicts is forbidden
- Wisdom, humility, patience and self-control enable us to prevent and diffuse quarrels
- Loving others as Christ loves us empowers us to overlook offences and pursue reconciliation
- Quarreling damages our witness and relationships; peace and unity glorify God
- God can use conflict for good if we trust and obey Him through it
As Christians, we are called to a radically different approach to conflict than the world – one that prioritizes others over selfish interests, displays Christlike love, and seeks true unity to the glory of God.
How Should Christians Handle Conflict?
Since quarreling is inevitable in our relationships at times, how can we manage disagreements biblically? Here are some practical principles:
- Pray – Bring the matter to God first rather than acting impulsively. Pray for wisdom, self-control, and love for the other person, as well as for resolution.
- Humble yourself – Consider how you may be at fault, not just the other. Be willing to confess your own sins or shortcomings first.
- Initiate reconciliation – Make the first move to end the conflict if possible, rather than waiting for the other to come to you.
- Speak graciously – Avoid inflammatory speech that would prolong the quarrel. Say only what is constructive and edifying.
- Find common ground – Appeal to the values and priorities you share as believers. Affirm your mutual commitment to Christ.
- Demonstrate grace – Grant others the same patience and forgiveness God has given you. Overlook minor offences whenever possible.
- Look to scripture – God’s word is the ultimate authority on how to live at peace with others. Yield any personal rights to obey its commands.
- Prioritize relationship restoration – Focus on reconciliation and unity above proving yourself right. Reaffirm love and care for the person as a brother or sister in Christ.
- Involve others – If quarreling persists unresolved, ask spiritually mature Christians to help mediate and counsel toward unity.
As Christians we are citizens of God’s kingdom above any earthly affiliations. While the world promotes individualism and defending personal rights at any cost, Scripture calls us to show Christlike humility and patience when conflict arises. If we surrender our own rights and seek others’ good first, the Lord can heal strained relationships and deepen bonds for His glory.
In summary, quarreling has serious detrimental effects on individuals, the Church, and our witness. It often stems from sinful desires for selfish gain or combative pride. But Scripture offers godly prevention and remedies. As believers, we must seek to embrace the biblical principles of peacemaking, wisdom, patience, grace, humility and unconditional love in dealing with any conflict. Relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can trust God to use disagreement for our sanctification and ultimately for His good purposes. May our lives and speech be characterized by the peace and unity that honor Christ and further His kingdom.