In almost every circle of society and company of friends you will find one man who is a troublemaker. Thriving on contention and despising peace, he is ready to argue about every trifle. To the quarrelsome man, happiness is a fight.
What does the contentious man hope to accomplish? Does anyone really know? In this some infantile way to attract attention? Or is it a strategy to remove the spotlight from one's imperfections while focusing it upon the defects of another? Perhaps it is a ploy through which one seeks power. Whatever the reason, discord is sown, that vice so vividly described by John Wolcot:
Discard, a sleepless hag who never dies,
With snipe-like nose, and ferret-glowing eyes,
Lean sallow cheeks, long chin with beard supplied,
Poor crackling joints, and wither'd parchment hide,
As if old drums, worn out with martial din,
Had clubb'd their yellow heads to form her skin.
My friends, what right does the troublemaker have to paint everything black? Who should his ill-temper and malevolent spirit permit him to be a social incendiary? Should he not be arrested for disturbing the peace? For those who desire to put the contentious man in his lace, Solomon has two suggestions:
1. Keep aloof. Strife will die if it is not supplied with fresh fuel. Neither a fire nor a quarrel can continue without being fed. Even the most contentious man soon tires of a one-sided war. As Seneca said, "A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party: there is no battle unless there be two". It is no disgrace to side-step the man with a head full of quarrels. After all, if you were climbing a mountain and a great rock started rolling toward you, common sense would dictate that your step aside. Solomon says, "It is an honour for a man to keep aloof from strife" (Proverbs 20:3).
2. Get rid of the troublemaker. The wise man advises, "Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease" (Proverbs 22:10). Any group is better off minus the despicable spirit and pernicious influence of the quarrelsome man. For in his absence, peace will prevail.
I guess a hornet's next is fine... if you happen to be a hornet. But as a person, I prefer peace. Don't you?
Dear friend, if you would like to read more about how to develop this peace, I'd be happy to send you a free booklet entitled "Apples of Gold". Just write to me at PO Box 1540, Albany WA 6331. If you prefer, you can fax your request to (08) 9841 6103. My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.