Feuds and fights have always been a part of human existence. When people in colonial America had a quarrel, they settled it with dueling pistols. In other places, a fistfight settled a matter. Now, more commonly, people settle their difference in the courtroom or on social media. Almost weekly we hear about Twitter feuds between celebrities, and it always makes the news rounds? Why? Because people love to hear about others fighting. Many love to hear about how others aren’t getting along, and the way they dig into each other. I cannot say why so many love when others fight. Maybe it makes us feel better when we see what others feel about an enemy. I understand watching competitive sports, but when others really fight should not ever be something that we delight in.
But there is a person that not even loves to watch others fight, but loves it enough to actually start fights, either between themselves and someone else, or between two or three other parties. This is who the book of Proverbs might call “Ms. Strifelover.” She loves to cause strife and friction. Person A says something negative about Person B, so Ms. Strifelover goes to tell Person B, awaiting the response. Sure enough, Person B gets upset and shoots back, so Ms. Strifelover gleefully goes back to Person A to relay the toxic message. Ms. Strifelover is sister to Ms. Drama. Ms. Strifelover is not an obedient Christian, because Proverbs 17:19 says “He loveth transgression [sin] that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.”
Ms. Strifelover infects others with their negativity. “Misery loves company,” the saying goes, and Ms. Strifelover is filled with misery that she would love to share with others. Proverbs 26:21 says: “As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” Coals that are on fire in proximity to others coals will start those other coals on fire as well. Ms. Strifelover will share toxic information with others, who will feel they need to share that information with others, especially with those will act on that information. When you remove Ms. Strifelover, you remove the contention. Proverbs 26:20 says “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.”
Ms. Strifelover is often involved with things that don’t involve her. It’s true that sometimes problems need to be addressed, even if it brings strife. Jesus said that following Him would cause division (Luke 12:52-53). But Ms. Strifelover isn’t creating strife that comes with the Gospel. She creates strife where there otherwise shouldn’t be. She is an expert in taking phrases and blowing them out of proportion, or twisting them to say what they don’t really say. She invades the territories of others to make trouble where there shouldn’t be. Proverbs 26:17 describes this “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.” Ms. Strifelover will herself be caught in her own strife (Proverbs 26:27).
When Ms. Strifelover starts brewing trouble, it is usually small, but gets bigger very quickly. She shares information, hoping to foment a problem, and it ends up spreading beyond two people as other strife-lovers take sides. Soon she has friends on both sides that won’t speak to each other: friendships that will never be healed and possibly marriages that will never be mended. Ms. Strifelover may even realize she’s gone too far, but it will be too late. Proverbs 17:14 instructs her: “The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”
The Bible instructs Ms. Strifelover to act in ways that call for peace and unity instead of division and contention. Proverbs 20:3 says “It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.” Ms. Strifelover could be known as a great person, a Peacemaker and Friend-creator, instead of an Instigator and Rabblerouser, if she would simply cease from strife. It would be an honor to her name and a credit to the Christ she could serve.