by | Jun 12, 1997 | Anger, Forgiveness

There is an ancient Greek myth that tells how Hercules encountered a strange animal on a narrow road. He struck it with his club and passed on. Soon, however, the animal overtook him. Now three times as large at it was before, Hercules was seriously threatened by the animal and began to fight it with all his might. Each time he struck it, the animal grew larger and deadlier.

Pallas appeared to Hercules and warned him to stop. “The monster’s name is Strife,” she said. “Let it alone and it will soon become as little as it was at first.”

Strife really is a monster. And its ability to grow in proportion to our inability to leave certain issues alone is well-known to everyone. Your wife says, “The yard is going to need a lot of work this summer.” So you say, “There you go again!” Your husband says, “Are you wearing that to the party?” So you say, “When were you assigned to the fashion police?” Or someone dares fax back a rejoinder to a “FAX of Life” that was on his desk Monday morning. So I . . .

Well, you have the picture. Strife rears its ugly head not only in California bars but in homes, between business partners and coworkers, or even in churches. Its work finished, there are divorces, lawsuits, and church splits.

The Bible speaks to the issue of strife in clear and specific ways. “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (Prov. 20:3). Indeed, honorable men and women don’t go around spoiling for fights. They are willing to seek win-win solutions for situations that come to them cast as win-lose scenarios. Not every contest is between right and wrong. Many are nothing more serious than contrasts in preference, taste, or method.

If you’ve ever puzzled over the meaning of Jesus’ counsel about turning the other cheek, now you know. Strife always takes two, and you can turn away.

Rubel Shelly The FAX of Life