True story: in the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. At the crack of the bat, the Baltimore Orioles John McGraw is off and running, past first, he rounds second and keeps going. The baseball and McGraw arrive at third base together. McGraw slides hard planting a foot into the chest of Tommy Tucker, the Boston Red Stockings' third baseman. Words are exchanged, then shoves, then punches. The benches clear, a fist breaks a nose, a cold-cocked mouth bleeds, teeth go dancing into the air. Fans storm the field and swing at anyone wearing the wrong color shirt. In the right-field bleachers, a stogie drops. Paper cups catch fire, igniting wooden seats. The fire sends sparks into the air, and the ballpark and 107 surrounding buildings burn to the ground. "How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire" (James 3:5-6).
Proverbs agrees, "as charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife" (Proverbs 26:21). However, if it would stop right there, we have only one quarrelsome person. That's annoying, but it's not a quarrel. "For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases" (Proverbs 26:20). But we don't stop there; instead, we fuel the flames. "The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body" (Proverbs 26:22). We like to share the dirt because we like to hear the dirt, and then we choose sides. A quarrel becomes a feud, a feud a fight, and then a war.
A quarrelsome man is a fool, but one guy can't start a fight. Fights are a group project. What if we didn't like to hear the dirt?
My Righteous God, You passionately defend Your Name, because Your Name is good. You come with peace, but also with a sword. You fight for what is right because You care for the poor, the weak, the humble, and the broken. I fight for what is wrong because I care for myself.
Teach me to be passionate about the right things. You have not asked me to be timid, but to be courageous, yet gentle. You gave me a Spirit of power and love and discipline. Give me also the wisdom to do what is right, to keep from sinning when I am properly angry, and to love and promote peace whenever possible.