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33For pressing milk produces curds,
pressing the nose produces blood,
and pressing anger produces strife. Proverbs 30:33 (ESV)
Some thoughts on this passage:
- Other translations use various verbs to translate this, but I think they lose the parallelism of the original. The repetition of 'pressing' shows the meaning here: there are inevitable consequences for certain actions. You press the milk, you get curds. You press the nose, you get blood. You press anger, you'll get strife.
- Pressing milk is no big deal.
- Pressing a nose is a bigger deal. Please don't press my nose and produce blood.
- Pressing anger is a much bigger deal. But that's what we do so very often. We know that people are angry, and we go ahead and press an issue. We learn what it takes to press someone's buttons, and we do it, thus producing a problem.
In your marriage. Husbands, do you know what your wife's pet peeves are? Are they things you think are trivial, like which way the toilet paper goes on the roll? Are they annoyances, like the fact that you call her and say you're leaving work, but don't go for another 10 minutes? What are the things you do, that, in truth, you know aggravate your wife, but you do it anyway? Wives, what about you? Do you do those things to your husbands?
Learn to leave those things alone! Don't press the anger and turn into strife! So many marriages run into trouble because we just go on and press anger into strife. Stop it. Take responsibility for your actions and your marriages and commit to not push each other's buttons. Don't make strife.
At your work: don't do things just to aggravate people, even if you think it's benign. Really, part of our issues as a nation is that we continue to behave like we're in Junior High. I think that's why we're constantly renaming Jr. Highs into Middle Schools. We just want it to go away. Unfortunately, most of us stopped learning social skills when we were in eighth grade, and have never moved past it.
As a homeschool family: I want to push some people's buttons and brag about how much better homeschooling is. It's tempting to try and constantly show off the benefits or defend against the criticism of homeschooling. I have to realize that some people are angry that my family doesn't want the government teaching our children. I don't need to press that anger and produce strife. I will, however, continue to do what I know is right. Proverbs 27:12 seems on point to me when it comes to government schooling, but I'll not press your anger here...
At church: if you know somebody's upset about something, don't press the anger, but try to diffuse it. Seek to understand, seek to help them deal with it Biblically. Which does not mean, by the way, sharing their complaint as anonymous prayer request with everyone. If it's a personality or preference issue, encourage the angry one to speak with the person they're upset with. If it's a legal issue, seek out someone in appropriate authority to address the issue. And if you're just mad about the carpet color the church chose, get over it.
As a country: there are people in our country who are angry. Some of them need to be dealt with. Some of them have legitimate issues that need to be handled. And some of them need to be left alone. If some folks want to move out to Idaho, live off their own land, and stay away from the world, why mess with them? All we'll get is strife.
In international relations: you've got to be careful dealing with angry people. That's what fortified borders are for.
In denominational issues: don't stir the pot between the various interpretative issues in Baptist life. Ultimately, I don't think you are more saved if you think God chose you first or if you think God allowed you light enough to see by and you chose Him. Some folks would disagree, and make it part of the Gospel. I don't think it's worth pressing. Much as C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity about views of the atonement: what truly matters is that God knows it worked for Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, and to raise on the third day! Does it really matter if you understand how it counts? And let's stop stirring into things that don't matter. I don't think 'private prayer language' is a spiritual gift revealed in Scripture, but I don't think it matters. I don't think you should be drinking alcohol to be intoxicated, but I like to cook, and many very good recipes call for wine. So, should I be booted if I cook with a nice chianti? What if I make 'beer bread'? Want to press that issue? Why? Is the strife worth it?
All in all, we need to learn to back off just a little bit, and give people some space on things that make them angry. Far better to live in peace with each other!
Now, this balances with standing firm for God's truth. There is no unity and no peace without truth. But, let's keep the Word as the standard of truth, and on other things, let's be a little more gracious...