“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14
The Barnes Lake Dam that once stood above Toccoa Falls, Georgia, gave some cause for concern. Fifty-five acres of lake pressed against the old earthen embankment built in 1887. Below the dam, Toccoa Creek plunges 186 feet in an uninterrupted drop, to emerge from a canyon beside a Christian and Missionary Alliance College that sits on 100 beautiful acres.
On November 6, 1977, after a week of heavy rain, the dam ruptured and unleashed a flood of water that left the small college town destroyed. At 1:30 a.m. the dam collapsed. Within minutes, a 30-foot wall of water, traveling at 120 miles an hour, smashed into the sleeping campus. The massive flood uprooted mobile homes, lifted automobiles, and crashed through dorm windows. Thirty-nine members of the community lost their lives. A memorial now stands below the magnificent waterfall in honor of those who died.
When I read Proverbs 17:14, I cannot help but think about the memorial that stands at Toccoa Falls. On it are listed the names of the 39 people who died on that fateful day when the dam broke, causing a catastrophic flood. This verse compares starting a quarrel with breaching a dam. Once the breach occurs, you have little control over the chaos that ensues. People can be hurt. Relationships can be destroyed. So, as Scripture says, it is wise to just let the issue go before people get hurt.
So often, we argue over silly things that are of no eternal consequence. In the moment, it is hard to let the little things go. But in the long run, it is better for everyone, including you. Being willing to overlook minor offenses takes the fruit of the Spirit. It is much easier to fly off the handle, become defensive, or have the last word. But that one off-handed comment or “dig” at someone else can be the final crack in an already shaky foundation causing the dam of anger to break. When that happens, nobody wins.
So, the next time you are offended or irritated, remember Toccoa Falls, Georgia. Remember the damage that a broken dam can do and bite your tongue. Allow the Holy Spirit to change your attitude, giving you the wisdom and grace to drop the matter and avoid a dispute. It won’t be easy, but Christ will be glorified.
Gracious Father, please help me to be a peacemaker, not someone who quarrels and gossips. Give me Your strength to not be easily offended and to hold my tongue when I am wronged. In Jesus’ name, amen.