“Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.”
One of the more uncomfortable things you will have to deal with in life is strife. Strife comes no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Strife happens because sin happens, and someone has to deal with the strife that sin causes. Likewise, strife happens because people happen. There are people who you will not like you, and they will do everything in their power to stop you. Strife is a part of life that you will have to deal with because if you don’t, the cause of strife will cause greater strife.
The verse above says, “Go not forth hastily to strive…” This verse does not say that you shouldn’t strive, but that you shouldn’t be hasty about it. The word “strive” in this verse is talking about contending or struggling in opposition with another person. There are going to be times when you will have to confront people about a wrong that will cause strife between you. All I am saying is that there will be times when you have to strive, but you don’t have to strive hastily. Several lessons this verse is teaching about striving.
First, could you be the cause of the strife? The first thing you always have to look at is if your actions could be wrong. The verse above talks about not being hasty to strive because your neighbor may put you to shame. In other words, hasty strife often will be embarrassing when you find out you are the cause of the strife. Before you ever choose to strive with another, you need to be sure that your actions are not the cause.
Second, you don’t have to respond to every opposition. One of the mistakes some people make is they feel they have to respond to every situation immediately. One of the most foolish actions you can perform is quickly responding to situations without knowing the whole situation. Don’t be the type of person who feels you have to always respond to something you feel needs correcting. You may be embarrassed when you find out your action was unwarranted because the situation wasn’t what you thought.
Third, let time have a chance to take care of the situation. One of the reasons you shouldn’t be hasty to strive is because time does have a way of correcting wrongs. You need to give those with whom you are about to strive to have a chance to correct themselves. If they are saved, the Holy Spirit can show them their wrong in a much better way if you will give Him the time to do His work in their heart.
Fourth, know the whole situation before you choose to strive. One reason you must not be hasty to strive is because you may not know the whole situation. Just because a person you trust tells you about a situation doesn’t mean they know the whole story about the situation. You would be wise to slow down with your responding so that you can get a grip on what is happening. The quick response is often a response you will regret because you don’t have the whole story to know how to respond. As much as you may feel you need to respond quickly, you need to squelch that urge so that you can calmly respond with the whole story.
My friend, you will damage your ability to work with people if you are a quick responder to situations. Always remember that you can avoid the embarrassing apologies if you learn to respond more slowly and knowledgeably.