Proverbs 13:10

An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs
Charles Bridges

"Only by pride comes contention,
but with the well-advised is wisdom."

Most accurately is contention here traced to its proper source. All the crudities of the day and all the novelties of doctrine producing contention originate in the proud swelling of the fleshly mind. Men scorn the beaten track; they must strike out a new path. Singularity and extravagance are primary charms. They are ready to quarrel with everyone who does not value their notions as highly as they do. The desire of preeminence, revolt from authority or sound doctrine, and party spirit with the pride of knowledge and gifts all produce the same results. Is it too much to say that vainglory has lighted up all the sinful contentions that have ever kindled in the church?

We must indeed "contend for the faith," though it be with our own compromising brethren. But even here, yet how imperceptibly may pride insinuate itself under the cover of glorifying God! Truly, as Bishop Hall observes, "It is the inmost coat, which we put on first and put off last."

This mischievous principle spreads in families or among friends. Some point of honor must be maintained, some affront must be resented, some rival must be crushed or eclipsed, some renowned character emulated, or some superior equaled and surpassed. Even in trifling disputes between relatives or neighbors, perhaps between Christians, each party contends vehemently for his rights instead of satisfying himself with the testimony of his conscience and submitting rather to be misunderstood and misjudged than to break the bond of the Divine brotherhood. In the wide field of the world we may well ask, "Form whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not from this lust?" (James 4:1.) Often has wounded pride, even without any proved injury, brought destructive contention upon a land.

The proud man conceives himself wise enough. He asks no counsel and thus proves his lack of wisdom. But with the modest, well-advised man there is the wisdom that is from above, "which is first pure, then peaceable" (Jam. 3:14-17). Many a rising contention has it quelled. "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves" (Phil. 2:3). Christian wisdom will keep us within our own line, knowing our own measure and bounds, and--whatever be our place, parts, or gifts--humble, active, loving, constant, thankful in the improvement of them.

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