Bones of Contention

Bones of Contention is the title of a book that my Dad has in his library of Creation vs. Evolution volumes, and is totally unrelated to this post.  But I liked the title, so I am stealing it for my own purposes :-).

As I talked about in my last post, my greatest problem is with my tongue.  Interestingly, I am not alone with this problem, as I have seen at least one post per blog on this topic among my blogger girlfriends.  It’s not just that I say too much, or too loudly, but that arguments have an uncanny attraction to me.  I don’t mean to start them, but when they do happen to occur, there is “no turning back”… I’m in.

Not a good habit to have.  At first, people thought it was funny, and I had some great, meaningful debates with some of my friends.  But recently, what at first seemed harmless proved to be destroying relationships that I had never intended to harm. 

Proverbs 21:19 says: “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” 

Proverbs 27:15 says: “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” 

To ‘contend’ is to argue heatedly, and not with the desire to convince as much as the desire to defend.  For example, let’s go to the family dinner table last night…  (The fuzzy screen begins, fading into Phylicia’s dining room)

Autumn: Today at homeschool group Miss Julie gave a devotion on flirtation, and she told us about when she was younger and she liked talking to guys better.

Phylicia:  Yeah, I heard about that.  Actually, my speech covers almost exactly what she talked about.

Autumn:  No it doesn’t.

Phylicia:  Yes, it does.

Autumn:  No, it doesn’t, I heard it, and your talk didn’t sound ANYTHING like hers.

Phylicia:  How would you know?  I was giving a completely different talk last week and now I am working on another that you WEREN’T aware of! Now who’s right? Hm?  (Fuzzy screen abruptly ends)

Sounds just like the kind of person who should be giving a talk at all, right?  Once somebody confronts me, my inclination is to defend myself.  This only escalates into an argument, and then into a fight.  What should I be doing?  That is clearly laid out in James 1:19-20:

“Know this. my beloved brothers:  let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of a [woman] does not accomplish the righteousness that God requires.”

That seems pretty clear.  And the Proverbs verses make it doubly clear that a contentious person — but especially a woman — is more annoying than rain on a tin roof, and enough to drive you into the wild.  It will take consciously — well, shutting up.  Better to say nothing than to end up saying too much. 

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”   Hebrews 12:11

Soon, I hope, all that will be left is the bones of my contention.  I guess that title tied in after all :-).

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4 Responses

  1. Dear Phylicia,
    Turning to my bible to hopefully encourage you in this tough journey…
    Look at James chapter 3
    James 3:2-12
    “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My bretheren, these things ought not be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my bretheren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yeals both salt water and fresh.

    Open up your bible and continue this chapter. I have that particular section highlighted and parts underlined in mine. I am also working on this. 🙂

    Remember to pray always.

  2. Uh yeah, I am guilty of having bones of contention too. :”> I think it’s a level of maturity. There are some things you should get angry about and defend, and then there aren’t.

    Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  3. Dear Phy,
    Dad and I watch as you willingly allow the Lord to sift you as if through cheesecloth! What a willing heart.
    You will be blessed. And we all enjoy your spunk – but are willing to see some of the contention go. Wonder where you’ve observed a little contention over the years???? Hmmm…We all can improve in this area – but we have a wonderful, loving, blessed family, thank the Lord. Continue on lovely lady!
    Hugs ha ha
    Mom

  4. Dear Phylicia –
    Wow. I love this post. I am too loud and bossy (not to mention angry most of the time I am) and would probably fit into the ‘contentious’ category that Proverbs talks about. Like you, every time I am confronted by something, I am always ready with a sharp tongue and my defense is stacked up high.

    But I am learning to control my anger, and my sharp tongue. I have been biting it for the past two weeks. Because it’s like you said – shutting up is better than saying too much. And the Bible does say to be quick to listen with your ears rather open your mouth to speak. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

    I agree with what the Apostle Paul said in Hebrews – I hate getting disciplined, but if I don’t, how will I know what is right and what is wrong?

    BTW, I have heard of that book about Evolution. It’s a very good title you picked for your post.

    Thank you for coming by! Hope you will again soon!
    Love,
    Rachel
    http://dixonhomestead.com/rachel

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