Quarreling, arguing, and fighting with others is unfortunately a common occurrence in human relationships. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to walk in love and unity with one another. Yet disagreements and conflicts inevitably arise. What guidance does Scripture offer on how to handle quarrels and disputes in a godly manner? In this comprehensive post, we will explore key Bible passages concerning quarreling and derive biblical principles for conflict resolution.
“Depart from evil, and do good; Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14 NKJV).
“Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 NKJV).
At times disagreements are inevitable, but God’s Word provides wisdom on how to resolve conflicts in a constructive manner while honoring Christ. As we examine what the Bible teaches, let’s keep several principles in mind:
- We are all sinners saved by grace, so humbly examine your own heart first when conflict arises.
- Seek to truly understand the other person’s perspective with empathy.
- Clarify the substantive issues and positions at stake, not just personalities or emotions.
- Focus the discussion on seeking truth, not “winning” or insisting on your own way.
With God’s help and biblical guidance, we can navigate quarrels and disagreements in a manner that honors Christ and builds unity.
Old Testament Teachings on Quarreling
The Destructiveness of Quarreling
Proverbs describes quarrels this way:
“The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts” (Proverbs 17:14 NKJV).
Just as a small leak can lead to a flood, an argument left unchecked can grow into a raging conflict. Scripture urges us to restrain quarreling before it escalates:
“Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife” (Proverbs 26:20-21 NKJV).
These verses illustrate how quarrels spread through gossip, slander, and contention. A quarrelsome person fans the flames of strife. Therefore, we must guard our tongues and avoid talebearers to prevent disagreements from turning into all-consuming conflicts.
Causes of Quarreling
“Only by pride cometh contention” (Proverbs 13:10 KJV).
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32 ESV).
Rather than humbly discussing issues, prideful people insist on their own way, causing strife. Quarreling often flares up when we do not restrain our anger and rule our spirits. Seeking to understand others, while controlling our own responses, can prevent disputes from arising in the first place.
Resolving and Avoiding Quarrels
The Bible offers much wisdom on resolving conflicts in a conciliatory manner.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 ESV).
Gentle, thoughtful responses can diffuse quarrels, while angry, cutting words only exacerbate disputes. Scripture further counsels:
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12 ESV).
Choosing to cover over minor offenses with love rather than demanding satisfaction maintains peace and unity.
Overall, the book of Proverbs endorses humble, peaceful responses to conflict:
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27 ESV).
At times avoidance and separation are needed:
“The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks. It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 25:23-24 ESV).
When quarreling persists unabated, creating necessary boundaries is wise. But in general, Scripture calls us to resolve disputes through patient understanding, speaking the truth in love, humbly considering others above ourselves, and seeking reconciliation whenever possible.
Quarreling in the New Testament
Christ and the apostles instruct believers on handling quarreling and conflict in a way that honors God, building on the Old Testament foundation.
Jesus’ Emphasis on Peacemaking
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 ESV).
As God’s children, we are to proactively seek peace and reconciliation with others. Jesus modeled this during his ministry:
“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them…But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves” (Luke 22:24-26 ESV).
Instead of asserting his own authority, Jesus gently corrected his disciples’ quarrel over greatness by reminding them to pursue humility and service, not status.
In conflicts, Jesus said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 ESV). He commands his followers to overcome evil with good and repay wrongs with forgiveness, not retaliation.
Guidance from Paul on Quarreling
The apostle Paul echoes and expands on Jesus’ instructions for countering quarreling and resolving conflict:
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18 ESV).
This exhortation should be our sincere aim—to remain at peace with others, as far as it is up to us. Paul further admonishes:
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4 ESV).
Considering others’ perspectives and needs, not just our own, is key to avoiding and resolving quarrels.
Paul warns against quarrelling about doubtful or secondary issues:
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions…Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls” (Romans 14:1, 4 ESV).
When debating opinions, we must allow for differences, welcoming and building up one another in love. Insisting on uniformity only causes strife.
Principles and Examples of Resolving Quarrels
The New Testament provides many positive principles and examples of resolving conflicts:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15 ESV).
Jesus gives a process for addressing wrongs, beginning with personal appeals before bringing the matter before others. The goal is restoration of relationship, “gaining your brother back” through forgiveness.
Paul also emphasizes the reconciliation motive:
“If anyone has a complaint against another; forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13 NKJV).
Recalling Christ’s mercy should motivate us to forgive others and seek reconciliation when quarreling and offenses occur.
The early Jerusalem church provides a positive example of conflict resolution. Disagreement arose between Hebrew and Hellenistic Jewish believers over distribution of food. The apostles gathered all parties and guided them to a unifying solution, ensuring needs were met with equity (Acts 6:1-6).
Paul and Barnabas quarreled over whether to bring John Mark on another missionary journey, resulting in their separation (Acts 15:36-41). But years later, Paul mentions John Mark as a “fellow worker” (Philemon 1:24), indicating they reconciled.
Biblical reconciliation acknowledges grievances honestly but seeks forgiveness and restoration.
Key Biblical Principles for Resolving Quarrels
Drawing from the Old and New Testaments, we can summarize these key principles for dealing with quarreling:
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19)
- Go to the person privately first; avoid spreading matters to others (Matthew 18:15)
- Gently speak truth in love; do not return insult for insult (Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 3:9)
- Seek to restore relationship; forgive those who repent (Matthew 18:15; Luke 17:3)
- Focus on the log in your own eye before the speck in your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3)
- Avoid foolish controversies and quarrels over opinions (2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9)
- Let each esteem others better than himself (Philippians 2:3)
- Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving as Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32)
- Where sin is involved, gently rebuke and correct (2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15)
- Set healthy boundaries if quarreling continues unabated (Proverbs 25:24; Romans 16:17)
-Aim for unity in Christ more than uniformity of belief or behavior (John 17:20-23)
- Season speech with grace, seasoned with salt, for peaceful resolutions (Colossians 4:6; Mark 9:50)
Practical Steps to Implement Biblical Principles
With prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, we can apply these principles to resolve quarrels in a constructive way:
- When disagreements arise, before reacting, pray for humility, wisdom, and proper timing. Ask, “How can I glorify God in my response?”
- Seek to truly understand the other person’s perspective and feelings before asserting your own. Listen more than speak. Ask clarifying questions.
- Acknowledge valid points and own contribution to the conflict. Be quick to confess your own faults first.
- Focus the discussion on seeking truth together, not “winning” or insisting on having your way.
- Present your perspective and concerns, but respectfully and gently, not in an attacking manner.
- Make suggestions for resolving the substantive issues, not just smoothing things over. Strive for solutions that satisfy mutual interests as much as possible.
- If apologies are needed from either side, be quick to forgive and let go of the offense. Do not hold grudges.
- If you have offended the other party, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Demonstrate repentance through changed actions.
- Thank the other party for discussing the matter with you and working through tensions constructively. Pray together if appropriate.
- Going forward, be proactive in preventing quarrels through open communication, giving the benefit of the doubt, not keeping score of wrongs, and regularly expressing appreciation and affirmation.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways
In summary, here are key biblical principles to remember about quarrels:
- Quarreling destroys unity and harms relationships, so we must seek to restrain, avoid, and cut it off as quickly as possible.
- Pride and lack of self-control often fuel quarrels; approach conflicts with humility, patience, and care for others.
- Jesus commands his followers to actively promote peace, forgive others, and reconcile relationships.
- Move conflicts toward resolution, restoration, and unity whenever possible, not separation or insisting on your own way.
- Address substantive issues constructively, not personalities and emotions only. Seek solutions that satisfy mutual interests.
- Season speech with grace and follow biblical steps for resolving issues one-on-one before involving others.
- Ultimately, demonstrate Christlike love that overcomes evil with good and leaves judgment to God.
Rather than viewing conflicts as win/lose situations, we can see disagreements as opportunities to grow in grace, apply God’s wisdom, and promote unity and harmony to the glory of God. By following biblical principles, we can navigate quarrels and disputes in a manner that honors Christ and one another.