Proverbs 3:30

Proverbs 3:30 "Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm."
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It was Solomon’s objective in writing to get his readers to think.  Gifted with the wisdom of God, Solomon was a man and teacher of thought.  Life is best lived when it is thought through.  In Solomon’s mind and in God’s word, relationships with our fellow man would be no exception to this truth.  In verses twenty-seven through thirty, this wise man wanted his readers to think about the different types of people there are in the world and how that impacts our behavior towards them.  In verses twenty-seven and twenty-eight, there are people to “whom our good is due.”  These are the people in our lives that deserve our charity, respect, tribute, honor and affection.  In verse twenty-nine, there are people that “dwell securely by us.”  These are the people that deserve our trust, loyalty and sincerity.  In verse thirty, there are people who “have done us no harm.”  These are the people that deserve our peace and cooperation.

Our approach to people needs to be based on reality and not on imagination.  Our behavior towards people needs to be based on truth and not on limited or skewed perception.  When it comes to relationships, facts are critically important.  When it comes to dealing with people, assumptions and perceptions are incredibly dangerous.  If we choose our behavior on assumptions, we will withhold good from people because it’s too easy to assume that they’re trying to take advantage of us.  If we choose our behavior on assumptions, we will devise evil against our neighbors because it’s too easy to assume that they’re out to get us.  If we choose our behavior on assumptions, we will strive with people because it’s too easy to misinterpret their words or actions as threats.  Facts, on the other hand, help us choose our behavior more appropriately.  When we choose our behavior on facts, we won’t withhold good from people because we will learn that people really do have significant needs.  When we choose our behavior on facts, we won’t devise evil against our neighbors due to the lack of evidence that they’re out to get us.  When we choose our behavior on facts, we won’t strive with people where there is no factual evidence of any wrongdoing.

Solomon wanted his readers to use their minds before they used their hands.  He wanted them to engage their brains before they engaged their mouths.  He wanted them to gather the facts before choosing their behavior.  Making assumptions about people leads to more than just poor behavior – it leads to broken relationships and a damaged reputation.  

Blessed with a peaceful reign, Solomon was an ambassador of peace.  He enjoyed the benefits of peace and spent much of his writing on keeping the peace.  But even this peaceful king understood that life without contention is unrealistic.  He fully understood that strife is going to be unavoidable at times.  Having been excessively experienced with the most intimate of human relationships, he was well aware of how easily strife enters a relationship.  In Proverbs 19:13, he wrote that “the contentions of a wife (not an enemy, stranger or acquaintance) are a continual dropping.”  Strife and contention are an unfortunate reality for a world where billions of inherently-selfish people reside.  That being said, Solomon taught that strife and contention need to be reserved for legitimate situations where it is necessary.

Strife should only be chosen when and where it is necessary.  Solomon didn’t write, “strive not with a man.”  He wrote, “strive not with a man WITHOUT CAUSE.”  There are causes in our world where strife is necessary.  There are causes in our lives where contention is necessary.  There are reasons for which we are to fight.  Solomon knew this very well as his peace was the result of another man’s noble fight.  It was his father who began the path to peace for Solomon by asking the famous battlefield question, “Is there not a CAUSE?  In 1 Samuel 17, the Philistines were fighting the Israelites and were intending on taking the Hebrews as slaves if no one defeated the great Goliath.  David saw that threat and intention as a cause worth striving for.  The freedom of God’s people and the glory of God’s name were both legitimate CAUSES for which to fight a giant and his army.  David would choose to strive with many pagan nations because of the threat they posed to his family and to his nation.  Esther chose to strive with Haman because of the clear intention to destroy her people.  Gideon chose to strive with the Midianites because of the violence and pain they were causing his people.  There will be people in a cruel and violent world who seek our demise – who give us a cause to strive – who give us a reason to defend ourselves.  Thieves who enter our homes under the cover of darkness give us a worthy cause to fight.  Criminals who seek to harm our loved ones give us an instant cause for strife.  

There are reasons to strive with people but these reasons must be based on FACT and not on assumption.  David didn’t start throwing stones at Goliath until after he heard the uncircumcised giant verbalize his intent.  Esther didn’t initiate Haman’s ruin until after she read the evil man’s legislation.  Before we put the gloves on, we must first do our research.  Before we pick the sword up, we must first do a thorough investigation.  Proverbs 25:8, “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.”  Most of the people in our lives have no intention on hurting us.  Most of the people in our lives are not our enemies.  Sadly, because of our insecurities and because we tend to take ourselves too seriously, we start battles with people who have no intention of hurting us.  Simply put, we assume too much.  Frankly, we tend to think too highly of ourselves and too little of everyone else.

Follow peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14) and reserve your fight for the few scenarios in life that actually require it.  Refuse to strive until absolutely necessary and until all of the facts point to a legitimate threat to the safety of you and your loved ones.  Don’t let assumption be your war counsel.  Don’t let perception be your military advisor. 
Someone looking at you the wrong way is not a cause for strife. 
Someone forgetting your birthday is not a cause for strife. 
Someone ignoring you is not a cause for strife. 
Someone having differing thoughts, ideas or preferences than you are not causes for strife. 
Someone letting you down is not a cause for strife. 
Someone making a mistake is not even a cause for strife.

Someone intending on ruining or hurting you may be a cause for strife. Someone intending on harming your loved ones is a cause for strife.  These instances will be far and few between in life.  If you’re going to strive, make sure it is induced by a true CAUSE, one that can be verified by FACTS.  This fact-finding is the responsibility of the mind, which is why God’s word instructs us to engage the mind before choosing our behavior.  

Life is best lived when it is thought through.  

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