Scorn – Hidden Source of Contention

Over this past year or so several words have taken on new significance in my understanding.  Recently the word “scorn” took my attention and I am surprised how significant this topic may be in daily life.  So let me unpack it a little for you.

The key verse that brought ‘scorn’ into focus for me is Proverbs 22:10…

“Cast out the scorner, and contention will exit; yes, strife and reproach will cease.”

Here I saw a key link between scorn and ‘contention’.

Many homes live under the weight of contention so scorn could prove to be very relevant.

Previously I linked contention with pride, because of Proverbs 13:10…

Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”

Scorn is another piece of the contention puzzle.

Contention is linked to scorners and also to pride.  So scorn must be an expression of pride.

Scorn includes contempt, disrespect, disapproval, criticism, dislike, derision, indignation and disdain.

The link to pride probably sits with the scorner feeling a sense of elevation or superiority over the one scorned (that’s pride) so they judge the failings or poor qualities of the one scorned.

So scorn blocks forgiveness, because the scorner is not looking to act humbly or in good faith, but to serve their pride.

The scorner takes a place of pride and superiority over the one who is scorned so they do not adopt a posture of grace and forgiveness.

If there is contention in your home or your relationships you can be sure there is pride and scorn.

Many years ago my marriage was under great strain.  I had offended Susan by my persistence to achieve a goal, without seeming to care for her struggles in the process.  For many months our relationship was strained and I found Susan difficult to relate to.  All that time she struggled with feelings of offence, knowing her attitude was not right but not able to break free from it.

Late one night we were finally able to talk about the tensions and Susan poured out her string of hurts and feelings of offence caused by my actions.

All I could do was admit that I had burt her and ask her forgiveness.  Then the way forward was in her hands, not mine.  I said to her, “You know what you have to do.”  We were well aware of the need to forgive offenders in order to come to freedom ourselves.

Susan said she already knew she had to forgive me.  She was struggling to do so.

When she got to it, Susan’s forgiveness took only a few moments to say but it changed the atmosphere completely and set our relationship free to blossom again.  The impact was profound, even though the forgiveness process was almost momentary.

Think about your situation.

Is there contention, strife or reproach in your relationships?

Does the contention and strife settle down when someone else leaves the room, or when YOU leave the room?  Who is the ‘scorner’ in your situation?

Do you face contention and strife in many of your relationships?

Are you sitting in judgement of others, elevating yourself in pride, thinking you have the right to hold them in contempt, disapproval and indignation?

If you take the place of ‘judge’ over others God will judge you severely and one of the judgments is that God cuts you off from the benefit due to you through those you despise, which could even be your spouse and family.

And consider another verse about ‘scorn’, the very first verse of the Book of Psalms.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1

The ungodly walk, sinner stand, and scorners sit.  Scorners make themselves comfortable in their place of scorn, pride and judgement of others.  They probably affirm their right to stay in that seat of judgement through all manner of justifications and fault-finding.

If you are a scorner you are probably very inflexible and slow to come around to grace and forgiveness.

If this touches you in some way then please take a lesson from my lovely wife and get out of that seat of scorn into the wonderful freedom that grace and forgiveness pour down upon us.

Woman Beware

As a dad and as a pastor giving guidance to young people I have written very little for young women.  Following the pattern of King Solomon in his instructions to his son, I am starting out with some cautions.  And much of what I share here comes from the wisdom of Solomon.

The Heart of the Matter

For all of us the heart is the “heart of the matter”.  Our actions are less significant in God’s eyes than our motives.  So any guidance to youth is really guidance for their heart.  This is particularly so for young women who can be distracted by externals, such as their own appearance or competing with the beauty of others.

King Solomon instructs us to be very diligent in protecting our heart, because the reactions of our heart become the “issues” we have to live with and deal with in our lives.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

“Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts: if you seek him, he will be found of you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever.”  1Chronicles 28:9

Womanly Issues

From my counselling experience and from my reading of the Bible I am aware of several issues which women are likely to struggle with.  I want to draw them to your attention with the caution that these areas deserve careful consideration to keep the heart free.

I note, for example, that women are more concerned about security and preparation for the future than their husbands often are.  I note, too, that women want to feel “loved” and yet their husbands can often neglect them without realising it.  I also note that women can fall into contention, argument and having the last word, when they are upset with their husbands.

Then there is the reflection about womanhood that I once heard from Iverna Thompkins.  She observed to a large group of women that men tend to have a pigeonhole for everything – from work, to the kids, to the car, wife, dog, etc.  A man can therefore shut off to his unhappy thoughts or feelings about work (or some other issue) when he faces something that is not in that pigeonhole, such as playing with his children.

Iverna observed that women operate differently.  “For us girls,” she observed, “it’s just ONE BIG HOLE!” What she meant is that if a woman is upset about one thing her feelings spill over to everything else as well.

This leads to the observation that women must pay attention to Solomon’s advice to gain “rule over your own spirit”.

“He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Proverbs 31 Woman

It is often observed that the last chapter in the book of Proverbs provides a description of an ideal woman.  Many women, therefore, take note of that description and try to match the various qualities, such as rising early, running a home business, and so on.

Let me remind you that it is not our actions but our heart that is the heart of the matter.  Despite the many activities described there, the key verse for women is not about wool, flax, food, enterprise or rising early.  The key verse is about the heart.

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

The true “Proverbs 31 Woman” is defined by a heart to fear the Lord.

So let me point out how having such a heart makes you a very rare woman indeed.

Humility and Faith

I believe the two most powerful qualities a young woman can develop, and which will save her from the many traps that womankind falls into, are humility and faith.

Pride is a terrible thing in a woman because it leads her to fight and argue with her husband, which is the very opposite of being submissive and fitting in with his plans.  Let me show you how that works.

A contentious woman is proverbial, both in modern society and in the Bible.  King Solomon made repeated references to how terrible it is to be around a woman who is contentious.

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

“… the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 19:13b

Putting up with a contentious woman is like Chinese water torture!

So where do contentions come from?  Contention is evidence of Pride!

Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”  Proverbs 13:10

And a fruit of pride is that people look down on others, scorning them, and holding them in contempt.  That’s why getting rid of a “scorner” removes contention.  Scorn is an evidence of pride of heart.

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.”  Proverbs 22:10

Scorning the Husband

One of my lovely daughters-in-law related a few years ago how she attended a ladies group in her church and all the women did was complain about their husbands.  These young wives held their husbands in contempt.  They “scorned” them.  This means they had pride in their own heart about how much better they, as women, were, compared with their husbands.

When a wife lectures her husband, scolds him, belittles him, treats him like a naughty schoolboy, takes control over him and the like, she is in pride and is scorning her husband.

Yet it seems very easy for a woman to do that.  So beware of your heart.

Wives are commanded to submit to and honour their husband.  If you do not rule your heart properly you will probably find contentions coming from you because you scorn your husband.

The Place of Faith

I mentioned the need for both humility and faith.  I have shown that humility is important, to neutralise pride that leads to scorning and contention.  So, what about faith?

Wives are instructed to submit to their husband.  Yet many wives struggle with the lack of care, wisdom and planning they see in their husbands.

Because women are geared toward a need for security, the impulsive, undisciplined actions of her husband can make a woman fearful.  From that place of fear, combined with scorn for her husband’s lack of care for her, a woman can take control of the home and family, so she will feel secure.

This is where “faith” comes in.  Since it is God who commands the woman to submit, she must seek to do so with all her heart.  If she is insecure in the abilities and thoughtfulness of her husband, then she must focus her faith on God, not her husband.

A wife may pray something like this: “Lord, I know You want me to submit to my husband.  But he is so irresponsible and I am afraid for myself and our children.  He wastes money and makes decisions on impulse, despite all the times I try to get him to grow up!  But Lord, I want to worship You by obeying Your instructions.  So I choose to submit to my husband and honour him.  I do this as an act of faith in You.  I give You my fears and my needs.  I ask You to protect me from my husband’s foolishness.”

Such a prayer places the woman’s faith where it is supposed to be; on God, not the husband.

Out of Order

The ideal woman is one who fears the Lord (Proverbs 31:30), and rules her own spirit, having both humility and faith.  So what is a woman like if she does not follow this wisdom?

A woman who does not fear God allows her pride and fear control her, so she then seeks to control the man and children in her life.  This is where we get the idea of the matriarch who rules the family, or the woman who makes her husband a “hormone hostage”.

Manipulation and control are a ready pitfall for a woman who is out of order.  King Solomon has a description of such a woman.

“And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: the one who pleases God will escape from her; but the sinner will be taken by her.”  Ecclesiastes 7:26

Note that a man will feel like it is better to be dead than to live with such a woman.  That has echoes of the comment about living in the desert rather than putting up with a contentious woman.

I have had to counsel both men and women who struggled with the manipulation and control of a mother or wife.  Such control is more than just emotional, it is devilish, because it is rebellion against the will of God.

Witchcraft in the Home

While a godly woman is a most wonderful thing, a rebellious and contentious woman is a bitter thing.  However the deeper danger is the spiritual curse such a woman can bring in a marriage and home.  So let me add this observation to caution your heart.

A woman driven by fear, pride, scorn, self-will and an out of control heart will be in rebellion against God and he husband.  And “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”.

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”  1Samuel 15:23a

If a wife was to practice witchcraft in the home then spiritual oppression would come upon her, her husband and the family.  So, when a wife practices rebellion against God’s instruction to submit to her husband, she also brings spiritual oppression upon herself, her husband and the family.

This is part of the “snares and nets” problem a woman can be in a home.

What is Ruling You?

If a wife gives in to her impulses, fears, pride or reactions, she will be out of control.  She will not be under God’s headship, nor will she be under her husband’s headship.  Instead she will be ruled by her fears and other things that are ungodly.

If she then tries to contend, manipulate, control, argue and the like she is exalting that wrong spirit over the home.  Her husband should not give in to her, otherwise he is saying to Jesus, “You can’t be the head of this home right now, because my wife wants that spirit of anger to rule her and me.”

A wise husband will resist his wife’s manipulation and control, tantrums, outbursts, verbal attacks, contentions or the like, because he wants Jesus to remain as the head of the home, not some out of order attitude or spirit that wants to rule through the wife.

A Good Thing

Don’t think that these cautions mean women are terrible or evil.  All men and women have fallen short of God’s glory.  The challenge for each of us is to be holy as our God is holy.  For women that involves some challenges different to men, and vice versa.

It is God’s favour to give you as a godly wife to a man the Lord blesses.

Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour of the LORD.”  Proverbs 18:22

Godly women want to be a blessing.  And you are.  You are a gift to your husband.

Note, as a final word of caution, that you are a blessing when you are a “wife”.  A woman who is married to a man but acts as his superior, boss, mother, manipulator, jailer or the like is not his “wife”.  Being married to a man makes you a wife in human terms, but not according to God’s plan.

I call upon each of you to be a godly wife, by living in humility and faith and the fear of God, ruling your own spirit, so you do not give in to fear, pride, scorn, manipulation, control or any other thing that leads to rebellion against God.

And may the Lord bless you as you do.

Tensions at Home

When home life becomes sour, husbands and wives tend to fall into predictable patterns. While these are not universal they do have historic and Biblical recognition. So, I want to point out the patterns which you are tempted to fall into and the Biblical solution to wrong responses.

Interpersonal relationship is made difficult by the fact that it is “personal” – inter-personal. We look for close affectional bonds and relationships of mutual respect and trust. We want to be loved, appreciated, valued, empowered, given room to express ourselves and so on. These ideals are anchored deep in our “personal” self.

Stop Being Personal

When someone offends us or strains our relationship with them it is hard not to take that personally. When we take it personally we spiral into predictable patterns and responses.

argument 2

The solution, then, is to stop being “personal” about life. But that’s like saying, “Stop breathing!” We are so distracted by our inner self and our hopes, dreams, insecurities, fears, longings, and so on, that it is hard not to be “personal” about them. In fact, for many people, EVERYTHING is personal!

You stop being “personal” about life, not by numbing or destroying your inner self, but by resolving and releasing your inner self. When you find true love, joy and peace, with wholeness, confidence, trust in God, faith in God’s Word, release from your inner slaveries, and similar spiritual impacts of walking with God, your inner self is realised and released. You can then soar above the regular or even more challenging issues of life, like an eagle soaring high above a storm.

You will “mount up with wings like an eagle”!

Back to Earth

Eagle Shmeagle! What’s the point of this talk about eagles when you live like a Turkey among a bunch of Turkeys?! While soaring above the problems is your ideal and the goal of your life, the reality is that most people can’t even jump, let alone soar above the issues.

Humans are incredibly useless creatures. We are tied up in the things of our “flesh”, such as our pride, lusts, evil heart responses, sin, weakness, selfishness, independence, and so on. Man does not have the key to unlock his problems or the wisdom to plot his own path.

“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23

That’s why New Year’s Resolutions generally don’t work. Those resolutions rely on flawed creatures, who can’t save themselves.

Man’s hope is not in himself. It is not in the strength of will or the force of personality. It is not in controls and regulations. Man needs the input of the Divine to empower him to overcome the limits of the Temporal.

Lead Feet

Your lead feet keep you on the ground. Your lead feet are those things that hold you to the ground and make it impossible for you to fly. And that includes all of your “fleshly” aspects. Your flesh buys into life at the level of your self-interest, lusts, pride and folly.

“And the LORD said, My spirit will not always strive with man, because he is also flesh….” Genesis 6:3a

Your “flesh” is your lead shoes. If you can die to your flesh, you can soar. If you insist on protecting your selfish interests (your fleshly focus) you will never escape your problems and your slavery.

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24

Personal is Personal

Inter-“personal”- relationships are “personal”. They are ‘person to person’. The more open and honest each person is with the other then the deeper and richer the relationship. A formal relationship is not personal. And when one party is not interested in being open and honest with the other then deep relationship is not really possible.

Now, when an issue gets “personal” it is because it has impacted the personal limitations of one or other of the people. Something is only “personal” because it challenges the “person”. That’s why in some homes and communities certain things are discussed that others will never mention, because those things are too “personal”.

One person may speak openly about their failures while others take their whole life trying to hide any of their failures.

Personal Vulnerabilities

If you are full of personal vulnerabilities then just about everything will be personal to you. Those who are delightfully free on the inside don’t get personal about things that come up. They can face the issues without feeling their inner self compromised or challenged. They don’t have fears or shame to contend with. So the issue is a “light” one to them, while it is unbearably “heavy” to others.

So, the limitations upon interpersonal relationships relate directly to the quality of the persons involved. Tensions in the home result from each member taking things personally, based on their “flesh” perspective on life. The more pride, selfishness and unresolved issues a person has, the more things that come up will be “personal” to them. They will not be able to dismiss things or forgive others as freely as they should.

Predictable Patterns

Because humans are not free from their limitations there are predictable patterns which are repeated over and over again, through history. I will explore these patterns in greater detail in the next posts in this series. Allow me here to point out the predictable patterns which you will clearly recognise.

When women, especially wives, are offended or upset in a relationship, they tackle their husband or those they have taken issue with a tenacity that will not let the matter rest. Women tend to go on the offensive with words and persistence that may drive their husband crazy. He is likely to say, “She won’t let up!”

When men, including husbands, are offended or upset in a relationship, they tend to shut down and withdraw from the offender. If the offence is serious enough a man will erect barriers between himself and the offender. Those barriers can be completely impenetrable. A wife is likely to say, “He just shuts down and locks me out of his life!”

The Solution

The simple solution, and this is a perfectly real solution despite its simplicity, is to become free from “self”. When we live for God, outside our own selfish orientation, we can rise above the demands, foibles and limitations of our humanness and fleshly self.

We are not able to achieve that of our own will. We need God to make that possible for us. Don’t give up by saying, “I could never do that!” You are not supposed to do it. You are supposed to let God do it in you and for you.

So, no matter how much you have messed up your relationships there is a powerful solution. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And it will be wonderfully effective. And all of this will be more fully explained later in this series.

Women With Wise Words part 2

In part 1 of this topic I pointed out that women are known historically for being contentious. That means that some women tend to say things that make for argument and strife.

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” Proverbs 21:9

“A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 19:13

I pointed out that the basis for such trouble-making words is “pride” and that it involves a desire to “rule” others and be their “judge”. Insecurity has a part to play in that as well.

bossy2

I won’t repeat the background points made in part 1, but if you missed them I encourage you to go back and brush-up on the points made there.

Wise Words

The point of these articles is to teach women and all who need to know it, to stop contending and start sharing. Wise words do not lead to contention. Hasty, angry, thoughtless words will tend toward strife. So I want to give you some wise counsel about alternative ways to respond, rather than with contentious words and argument.

There are two issues that need to be addressed. One is your heart and intention. If you are given to strife, like the woman I mentioned in part 1, then you will step into strife all the time. That woman ended up in strife with another lady in her church, and she was known as a difficult person to befriend.

The second issue is the appropriate process to follow. Even with the right intentions we need people to give us guidance about the best way to do things.

Let me discuss these two issues with you, to point you in the right direction.

The Heart of the Matter

If you are contending with your husband, your children or others, there will be something going on in your heart that prompts you to do so. You may be wrestling with disappointment, that your family and marriage are not what you want them to be. You may be wrestling with unforgiveness for offences they have brought upon you. You may be frustrated because you have not been able to achieve some personal ambition, which may even go back to your childhood.

Whatever the issue that is gnawing at your heart, you need to resolve it and give it to God. You are to cast all of your cares upon Him because He cares for you.

Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7

Stop looking to people to deliver you from your challenges. Trust those issues to God. Your husband, children, family, friends, career and social connections cannot do for you what God is meant to do. If you trust in people to be your saviour you bring a curse upon yourself.

“The LORD says; A curse on the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD. For he will be like the heath in the desert, and will not see when good comes; but will inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.” Jeremiah 17:5,6

Determine to trust God, and not to carry heart issues toward people who let you down. People are imperfect and only God can be your deliverer.

Control Your Speech

As you deal with your heart attitudes also take steps to control your speech. Hasty, impulsive, reactionary words will keep you in the unhappy cycle of contention. Stop contending and start sharing.

When your husband or child says something that you want to react to, stop yourself immediately. Don’t leap into the automatic response that you are urged to offer. Bite your tongue and hold yourself until you can find a wise and honouring response.

It is not easy to tame the tongue. The Apostle James warned us of that.

“But no man can tame the tongue; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8

We cannot do it in our own strength and so we need God’s grace and power to master our verbal responses. Start by trying to hold your tongue. And call out for God’s help at the same time.

Wise Counselor

Stop taking the position of ruler and judge and take on the role of wise counsellor to your husband and children. Stop violating their will, by being demanding, argumentative, emotionally charged and manipulative. You are not their king or judge, so drop that role. Take on the much more valuable role of being a godly counsellor to your family.

Compare the Roles

In one home the children are about to head off to school. As they do so the mother calls after them with a bunch of questions, like, “Did you remember your book?” “You’ll need something warmer than that!” “Don’t dawdle on the way home.” And so on.

The children are not really paying attention, because they know that if they have forgotten something their mum will take up the issue for them. They are just mindlessly running out the door as they always do.

In a nearby home the children have all gathered to their mum before heading off to school. She will pray with them, but not until they can account for all the things they need that day, to show they are properly prepared.

When she sees that one of them has forgotten something she wisely asks, “Now, isn’t there something else you said you had to take to school today?” Thus she prompts her children to remember. When they are all fully prepared she blesses them and sends them off with a hug.

The second mum is coaching and counselling her children as she shares her life with them. The first mum is acting like their ruler and judge, apart from their life, rather that sharing it with them.

Helping Hubby

In one home a husband announces that he thinks it’s time to buy a new car. His wife reacts with irritation and scolds him for thinking about a new car when they can’t be sure they have the money for other expenses. He defends by saying he was only thinking about it, but she launches in and gives him the history of all his unwise decisions. She further blasts him for never listening to her, always doing his own thing and making her feel so worthless.

The husband shrinks away, rattled and stung. He finds some excuse to be out of the home and away from the woman who is contending with him. It is better for him to be in the pub, or at work, or anywhere else, than with his wife when she is in that frame of mind.

In another home a husband announces that he thinks it’s time to buy a new car. The wife smiles and affirms her husband. “You do love cars, don’t you? What do you have in mind?” The husband begins to share his thoughts and the wife enjoys them with him.

After a time of happy discussion she asks him how he can possibly afford it at this time, and if there is anything she can do to help make it possible. Together they realise that it is really only a dream, until they can get on top of some other commitments. However they thoroughly enjoyed the dream and will both be delighted when it is realised.

In the second example the wife is sharing life with her husband. They are partners in the process, not adversaries contending over an issue.

Getting the Picture?

Can you see how dropping the role of ruler and judge takes the contention out of the discussion? Sharing life together is much more rewarding for you and your family, than becoming an adversary to your loved ones. I hope you are getting the picture that even disagreements can be worked through, rather than turned into a stand-up fight.

I want to give you more examples of “sharing” instead of contending. I want you to feel comfortable with changing the way you relate and speak to one another. I’ll give you those examples in part 3 of Women With Wise Words.

To go directly to Part 3 of this series click this link:
http://chrisfieldblog.com/?p=1193

Women With Wise Words part 1

Some women struggle with their tongue. So here is practical advice for wives and mothers and for others who end up creating trouble through their words. The point is to stop contending and start sharing. Let me explain.

The Unruly Tongue

The Apostle James, Jesus’ younger brother, warned that the human tongue is impossible to tame. Everyone says the wrong thing at times, and those who rule their tongue have mastered their whole life.

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2

“But no man can tame the tongue; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8

Only God can empower us to tame our tongue. So we need God’s wisdom and His grace and power to succeed in this important challenge.

The Argumentative Woman

bossyIt is significant that the Bible makes several references to an argumentative woman. On three occasions King Solomon advised that you are better off living on the rooftop or the wilderness rather than with a woman who wants to argue with you.

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” Proverbs 21:9

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

“It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.” Proverbs 25:24

We know that men, women and children can all be argumentative, so the points made in this lesson can be put to use by us all. But the argumentative woman is clearly bad news and a common enough reality for repeated mention in the Bible.

Contending

Let’s look at the dynamics that occur in contention and argument. Contending is a form of fighting. Two people become adversaries when they contend with each other. One or both are trying to gain some victory over the other. Or one is trying to defend against the demands of another.

For some reason women have a propensity to become contentious. This means they will contend with their husband and their children. Possibly as younger women they will contend with their parents. And they probably contend with others, outside the family, as well.

Many husbands comment on how their wife “nags” them and how she will not let up on some point or other that she is trying to press upon them. Solomon even refers to this.

“A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 19:13

The Roots of Contention

Contention springs from pride. King Solomon points out that contention only comes when pride is involved.

Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10

The pride that produces contention is linked to a person’s desire to rule others or to judge them. We know that from the Hebrew word for contention, ‘midyawn’, which comes from a Hebrew root word meaning to rule and to judge.

When a person is given to contending with others they are most likely motivated by pride in their own opinions or their own importance, and will feel they have the right to rule others and to judge them.

A contentious person can often operate as “judge, jury and executioner”. They take rulership over others and execute judgement upon them. They will do this purely on their own account, according to their own opinions and evaluation of a situation.

Powerless Women

I suspect that one of the motivations for some women to become argumentative and contentious is that they feel powerless. They feel the need to gain control over their husband and children, so they are not so vulnerable.

The godly challenge for women, however, is to submit to their husband. So women need to find security in God, not in their powers of argument. Since it is God who asks them to submit, they can appeal to God to protect and bless them, even if they have grave concerns about their husband’s leadership abilities.

When women become secure in God’s care for them, they will not need to “rule” or “judge” others. They will be content and happy to get on with the life God gave them.

Contending on Autopilot

I have noticed that contentious people are quick to scoff, rebut, react and create arguments.

I recall an example from my time in New Zealand. While preaching, I asked a builder in the church for an on-the-spot estimate of the length of the building. I was showing how people develop good estimation skills. He scanned the building, then said, “Fifty Feet”. Immediately an older woman in the congregation gave a loud scoffing, “Hoh!” She clearly thought the estimate was ridiculous.

There was so much emotion in her mocking reaction that the builder later grabbed his tape-measure and confirmed that the building was within inches of the fifty feet he had estimated.

That lady had a problem. Without any ability to come up with an answer herself, she instantly and loudly contended with the very accurate information offered by someone who knew what he was talking about.

I am afraid many people who give in to contention are similarly ruled by it. They feel impelled to buy into things they are not qualified to speak about. They contend as if it was their automatic setting, whether they have anything to offer or not.

Getting Personal

Argumentative people also seem hard to instruct. When someone shows that they know what they are talking about the contender is likely to say something like, “You think you’re SO smart, don’t you?” They are unlikely to say, “Thank You. I’m glad you explained that to me.” Pride and the desire to dominate and judge others are at the heart of contention, so the contender will be too aroused to be humble and teachable.

Note too that if people feel threatened they will resort to personal attacks, rather than argue the issue at hand. Accusations, dredging up past failures, mockery, personal taunts and the like often find their way into arguments.

A Better Way

There is a much better way to communicate than to argue. Even if the other person is wrong there are better options than argument and contention. And it’s that better way that I really want to share with you. Now that I’ve taken so long with these background remarks, I’ll save the “better way” for Women With Wise Words part 2, which I’ll post in a couple of days.