Proverbs 25:8

Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame.
– Proverbs 25:8

Verses 8-10 form a saying concerning resolving conflict and reconciling offenses. The context can be from private, interpersonal concerns to public, legal matters. As such, wisdom has much to say here to the maintaining of personal relationships in family and community and discipleship within a church body. Wisdom generally teaches our spoken words are to be few, thoughtful, and slow to come (Proverbs 10:19; 12:23; 15:28; 17:27; 18:2; 21:23; 29:20). Wisdom here speaks specifically to entering into controversies with your neighbor. The warning begins with avoiding haste, or being quick or in a hurry to strive, which means to grapple or wrangle. This striving could be accusing your neighbor for some offense against yourself or another, or even the giving of general advice or rebuke for his way. Wisdom is not saying these should never be done, but rather they should never be done hastily. There is an appropriate time, place, and way to address your neighbor.

The consequence of such hasty contention is being put … to shame. In other words, if you speak hastily to your neighbor over a matter, you most likely speak without full knowledge or understanding. Your neighbor answers exposing your folly for speaking before you understood the matter fully (Proverbs 18:13). Robert Deffinbaugh noted three reasons wisdom give for restraining our speech, which are applicable in our case of not being hasty to enter a controversy. We must be slow to speak “in order to hear what the other person is trying to say (Proverbs 18:13, 15, 17).” We must be slow to speak “in order to allow any anger or strong emotion to pass (Proverbs 12:16; 15:1-2; 17:27; 29:11).” We also must be slow to speak to give “the wise time to consider what to say and how to say it (Proverbs 15:28).” 1

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Notes:

  1. Robert Deffinbaugh. The Way of Wise (Kindle Locations 2289-2300). Galaxie Software. Kindle Edition.

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