War of Words

Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.

Proverbs 10:12 (NLT)

Going into college, I was sure I knew what my career path would be. I was going to be a lawyer. Specifically, I was going to be a prosecuting attorney. For those not sure what that is, a prosecuting attorney is the lawyer in court charged with proving that the person accused of a crime is found guilty.

Towards that goal, my junior year of college I was able to take a course in argumentation. It was a natural fit. We were trained in the art of taking our opponents down through words. We were taught strategies about how to out-think and out-maneuver our opponents so that their arguments would be less affective. At the end of the quarter, we were broken down into debate teams and given topics that we would be arguing in front of the class. This was my time to shine! To make a long story short, by the time my team was finished debating our opponents, we had literally rendered them speechless. They had no rebuttal, nothing to say to sway the judges that our arguments were incorrect. We won in a landslide. It was actually a lot of fun.

Even though I enjoyed most aspects of the class, I particularly remember one specific thing we were taught. Arguments should never be made personal. In other words, we were never to attack the person, we were only to rebut their argument. Our professor made sure that we would always respect our opponent, regardless of whether or not we agreed with them. We were to treat them with love, not hate. Personal attacks come from hate.

This brings me to our verse today, “Hatred stirs up quarrels.” Let’s clarify what King Solomon meant, here. Essentially, he is telling us that the hatred in our lives causes us to pick fights with others. While argumentation is the art of expressing contrary ideas, quarrels are fights that are personal in nature. They usually begin with something like, “Well you…” or “They are…” It’s an accusation about the offending party’s character, not just their opinion.

Notice the last half of the verse, “but love makes up for all offenses.” When we love the person, empathy comes into the picture. We seek to understand, not attack. We seek to forgive, not condemn. We seek to respect, not hate.

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