Proverbs 17:14 (NLT)
14 The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts.
Solomon points out all it takes are one wrong word, a negative reaction, a spiteful comment, an angry demand and the beginning of a quarrel starts. It’s like a dam with a slow leak that escalates into a bigger leak until finally the stability of the dam is lost and it bursts.
Another verse similar to Proverbs 17:14 is Proverbs 26:21, “A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.” The quarrel begins with something small and turns into something much bigger. We all have probably found ourselves in the middle or a quarrel. It may have started with something innocent, but then came a response with passionate flames of anger. I listened once as someone said, “thank you”, but the person hearing the words, already embittered by some situation, misheard the words and thought something spiteful was said. They flew into a rage with the other person. The one who spoke caught off guard by the angry response didn’t know how to respond back in kindness. So they responded back with their own flaming words until there was a heated quarrel that could have been prevented. Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Therefore, holy and beloved, as the elect of God, put on hearts of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one another if any man have a quarrel against another: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Be ready when quarrelsome words come at you to respond as Christ would have you do. Prepare yourself knowing how you will handle the next time someone speaks to you in a way that can start the flames of a quarrel. Pray God would give you wisdom to return words back in a kind, meek and humble manner. Pray you might control your own anger so as not to respond with words of sin. Think about how Christ would want you to handle yourself and speak out of love.