Proverbs 17:14, The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
Last summer we all saw the Mississippi River breach the dikes built to contain high flood waters.
People were helpless as they watched the water loose itself from the constraints of the man made walls that were built at great expense to keep the water from flooding the adjacent towns and farmlands.
But as the water rose and breached the dikes there was no stopping the flow.
It was to late. The water could not be stopped.
It was impossible to curb the flow and it simply did the natural thing that waters do.
It followed God's law of gravity as expected and flowed from high elevations to low elevations.
It caused great damage as it moved through the adjacent towns, cities and farmlands.
God in this verse uses a comparison to show that the beginning of contention is like letting water go.
Better be careful that you don't allow the beginning to happen because once the beginning takes place you cannot control the ending.
It is out of your hands.
I have an above ground swimming pool.
As you may know the walls of pools of this type are about 4 ft high and made of rather thin steel sheeting.
The pool is lined with a vinyl liner which holds the water.
Over the years rust attacked the metal wall of my pool in the location of the skimmer that was penetrating the wall.
Continuing deterioration took place which caused me to take some steps to strengthen the walls.
One day I noticed that a water leak in the rusted place was getting larger and I got in the pool to see what I could do to stop the leak.
No sooner had I got into the pool then I heard a cracking sound.
I saw the liner bulge through the ripped metal and I saw the beginning of the rapid exit of 7500 gallons of clean pool water.
I was helpless! My mouth was agape!
I was in shock as the pool water, which took 24 hours to fill, exited the pool in less then one minute.
It filled the area under the porch,
pushing previously sleeping and now yelping dogs out of its way, filling the back yard with several inches of water before spreading out and vanishing in the sandy soil.
My beloved wife, Nancy looked out the kitchen door, with amazement and chagrin to see what her crazy husband was up to now.
She witnessed a flood in one of the higher areas of Santa Rosa County.
My hands were tied. The bell had tolled on my pool and there was no undoing in what I had allowed to happen.
The water was let go and could not be returned to the pool.
God in this verse could also be describing a bodily requirement that all humans exercise daily to describe the danger that is present when contention may arise.
You ladies who have little boys that wet their diapers know what this means.
Ladies that work with little boys daily in the Daycare know what this means.
Father's also know what this means because they have been little boys.
Woe unto you if you do not cover the little boy's fountain while changing the sweet little boy.
There is no stopping a little boy who is ready to let water go, is there?
Does the mother ever try to stop the flow? The best she can do is damage control.
She tries to limit the damage with a quick cover up.
God desires to make this picture very clear to us by using this analogy to describe the beginning of strife.
And if God uses this example let's not be embarrassed to discuss it or examine it to receive instruction from it.
The instruction of it has to do with beginnings.
It has to do with your ability to begin something.
However, after the beginning takes place your ability to control the resulting events is lost or limited at best.
Provoking words are dangerous.
Provoking words bear many children and each one stronger then the last.
Every retort widens the breach.
Seldom when we hear the first word, have we heard the last.
Have we not heard from Jesus Christ himself that we are to suffer for righteousness sake?
Are we not to bear provocation by offering the second cheek to receive continued smiting?
Isn't that our instruction? Are we to stand up for ourselves saying we have our pride?
Are we to provoke to further contention?
No! The rule of our faith is to stop the evil at the beginning when it is possible to be stopped.
Left unchecked the strife will go in directions impossible to predict.
As a wise man once said, Man knows the beginning of sin, but who bounds the issues thereof?
Where are the boundaries of the evil that is loosed?
David knew this. He was as a deaf man to his enemies who were seeking to engage him in contention.
But he was wise enough and had faith to know that God would fight his battles.
Listen to the wisdom of his words in:
Psalm 38:12-16, They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.
David had learned the time to leave off contention is not at its worst intensity; but at its beginning before it is meddled with.
When we feel the first rising of temper in ourselves it is time to say halt to our pride and self promoting spirit and instead cultivate the meek and quiet spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Otherwise our foot will slip.
Our enemies will rush to judgment, call us no better than they, in fact they will compare themselves to us and we will be found wanting in the comparison.
Why is that?
Because we advertise ourselves (our testimony) as a child of God and the label does not match what is in the container.
Beginnings are important!