Summary: A contentious spirit is like fire which burns up all that is good, and puts families, friends and co-workers at odds. This spirit finds a small fire of strife, kindles it and keeps feeding the issues which cause distrust, hatred or malice.
Fire Of the Contentious
The Negative Influences of a Person Who Seeks Strife
The King James Bible tells us “As coals are to burning coals, and wood to a fire; So is a contentious man to kindle strife.” (Proverbs 26:21) “Contentious” (?????? ma?ôn) means to be argumentative, a person who is able to create barriers between persons. They are often an object of contention, the source of strife, discord and a quarrelsome atmosphere. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). In The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (pp. 571–572). AMG Publishers. - Strong, J. (1995). In Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.; Strong, J. (1996). In The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Thomas Nelson.)
This contentious spirit is like fire which burns up all that is good, and puts families, friends and co-workers at odds. This spirit finds a small fire of strife, kindles it and keeps feeding the issues which cause distrust, hatred or malice.
It is a heart attitude which we must avoid and give no ear to these types of talebearers, to do so is to entertain their sin. A contentious person misrepresents words and distort people’s actions. They are able to cause friends, family members and co-workers to sow discord. They are to be banished out of families, the workplace and all social organizations, so strife will cease. Whisperers and backbiters are not to be put up with for they wound the life of those who desire to do right. It is unwise to associate with people who boast of making sure unrest will continue until they get their way. Anyone who once exhibited a life governed by a continuous heart must prove a heart of repentance by word and life or be putout association with family, friendly gatherings or be allowed to continue in the workforce. (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1015). Hendrickson.; Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. (1909). Proverbs (p. 502). Funk & Wagnalls Company.; Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. (1909). Proverbs (p. 502). Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
When a contentious heart is set aside, discord can die a natural death. (Garrett, D. A. (1993). Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of songs (Vol. 14, p. 214). Broadman & Holman Publishers.) When you take coal or wood away from a fire, the fire finely burns out, so it is when you take a contentious person and spirit away from those who are inflaming with wrong motives and actions of life.
Overcoming the Contentious Spirit
Steps to dealing with a contentious spirit:
1.) Examine Yourself – Before we can enjoy God dealing with a person who has a contentious heart, we must first take to heart what Jesus taught. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the wood out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5) When we humble ourselves before God to deal with our motives in listening to a contentious person, then we can be better prepared in praying for the person who is bringing strife in the lives of others. Character Check – understand this – how you hear people talk about others is how they are talking about you when you are not around. The heart-searching question for all of us, “What is about my character which makes people feel to freely speak bad about others to me?” Do not be a live ear or supporter of a contentious person!
2.) Pray that those in authority will be made aware of the heart of a person who has a contentious spirit. If those in authority are unaware, this fire will grow – people unaware of it will pass it onto others. Just as hot coals ignite other chunks of coal, the spirit of contention ignites others.
3.) Pray that the Lord will open their eyes to the destruction of their own heart. Jeremiah informs us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) Those who are contentious are blind to their heart and actions, they convince themselves they are doing good and are right, when in fact they are destructive.
4.) If there is no fruit of repentance being expressed in the life of the person blinded by their own sin. Pray that those in authority will do their job quickly. It is too easy for everyone to ignore this sin, and much damage is done before proper action is taken. “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.” (Psalm 106:3) A person who is feeding a contentious spirit must be dwelt with as soon as possible.