Summary: Sign at the entrance to a psychiatric hospital: Do you want to be right or Do you want to be well? How one handles an arguement might indicate how well we really are?

How to Handle an Argument

Proverbs 15:1-4

A couple had been married for fifty years. "Things have really changed," she said. "You used to sit very close to me." "Well, I can remedy that," he said, moving next to her on the couch. "And you used to hold me tight." "How’s this?" he asked as he gave her a hug. "Do you remember you used to nudge my neck and nibble on my ear lobes?" He jumped to his feet and left the room. "Where are you going?" "I’ll be right back," he said. "I’ve got to get my teeth!"

"Ruth and I don’t have a perfect marriage, but we have a great one. How can I say two things that seem so contradictory? In a perfect marriage, everything is always the finest and best imaginable; like a Greek statue, the proportions are exact and the finish is unblemished. Who knows any human beings like that? For a married couple to expect perfection in each other is unrealistic. The unblemished ideal exists only in happily-ever-after fairy tales. Ruth likes to say, ’If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.’ The sooner we accept that as a fact of life, the better we will be able to adjust to each other and enjoy togetherness. ’Happily incompatible’ is a good adjustment." - Billy Graham

I read about a psychiatric hospital with this sign at the entrance: "Do you want to be right or do you want to be well?"

Conflict is unavoidable! How we handle those conflicts can help us improve or destroy our relationships.

How to handle an argument:

1) Learn to WHISPER

Proverbs 15:1

1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Two neighbors were talking over the back fence. "I went to a wedding this weekend," said one, "but I don’t think the marriage will last." "Why not?" asked the other. "Well, when the groom said ’I do,’ the bride said, ’Don’t use that tone of voice with me.’"

Have you ever tried to argue in a whisper? It is equally hard to argue with someone who insists on answering gently. The Speech Research Unit of Kenyon College has proved that when a person is shouted at, he simply cannot help but shout back. You can use this knowledge to keep another person from becoming angry: Control the other person’s tone of voice by controlling your own tone of voice.

2) Learn to WAIT

Proverbs 15:2

2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

James 1:19-20

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.


Remember the carpenter’s motto: Measure twice, cut once. Let this be our relationship motto: Listen twice, speak once. Lengthen your fuse. Take time to value the person making the statement so that you evaluate carefully what they are saying before you respond. In other words, people matter more than the position you hold! Who they are is far more important that what they say!

Be careful about exaggerating. It is so easy to use phrases like "always" or "never" - which, by the way, are almost always never true.

When you get angry and upset with someone, the first thing you begin to do is to make their faults and failures look way bigger than they really are. We start with the “you never” and “you always”.

I searched the gospels, and even though Jesus got angry and upset with people, he does not use the words, “you always” or “you never”. If we get rid of those words during our moments of disagreement, it will keep us from falling out with each other.

Proverbs 10:12

12 Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love covers all offenses.


Proverbs 12:23

23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.


3) Learn to Choose Your Battles WISELY

Proverbs 15:3-4

3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.


James 3:5-9

5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,

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Robert Mitchell

commented on Apr 14, 2008

Great sermon I really enjoyed the illustration and application.

Theodore Lakay

commented on Jul 30, 2016

So true and profound. Much to think about and much to exercise. Thanks for the sermon and I will definitely apply it in my daily life and on my journey to become worthily for the day of our Lord's return. God bless and never stop being an inspiration to many. Theo

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