It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
To a fool it is dishonor to walk away from a fight. It is shameful to “back down.” The fool believes he is protecting his dignity to respond to every perceived slight. The fool believes that he must correct every perceived error, that he must argue every point. He is quick to debate in any setting and with anyone (all for the sake of “truth”). He feels that if others are offended by his behavior, it is because they are hypocrites who don’t want to hear the truth; they are cowards who won’t take a stand, who are too fearful to speak up or fight for their name.
And yet, what the fool is really demonstrating is his own folly and arrogance. Whether it is the street thug who is quick to pick a fist fight or the intellectual quick to pick a verbal debate, what each reveals is that he is a fool.
It is not only practical to keep from strife; it is not only counted as wise to avoid arguing and fighting when possible; it is honorable to do so. What is being brought out here is not the willingness to take a stand for what is right, but avoiding unnecessary strife. It is knowing when to speak and when not to. It is knowing what is and what is not appropriate to say. It is knowing when to walk away and when to remain.
In reality the fool will be quarreling because he likes strife; he likes to offend. The honorable person engages in a fight or a debate only for the purpose of winning over an opponent to his cause or for protecting others. He stands up for justice because he truly cares about justice, not because he likes to make an impression of being for justice.
It gets back to the difference between pride and humility. The goal of the proud fool is to fit an image that he thinks is noteworthy; the goal of the humble wise is to do what is right and honorable before the Lord. Thus the fool will be seen by God for what he is and the wise person will be held up in honor by the Lord.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”
3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
babylon the great
the mother of prostitutes
and of the abominations of the earth.
6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. 7 Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”