As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
Peace is precious. Fighting is terrible. Gossip destroys reputations and friendships. Life can be enjoyable – peaceful and quiet. But some persons never let you rest and enjoy it; they must be stirring the pot and spreading rumors or secrets to cause pain and fighting.
Trouble follows some people. They have conflicts, debates, fights, grudges, and strife with others, whom they blame. But this proverb says it is their fault. Quarrels and disagreements would either not occur or would end quickly, but these contentious troublemakers stir up fights and keep fighting with most anyone (Pr 15:18; 29:22; 30:33).
The man or woman that often has difficulties with others wants to blame them. But it is impossible for strife to consistently follow good people, while the rest of the world lives in relative peace with one another. They must be at fault, because no one can get along with them for long. Once you identify such persons, they are usually the ones at fault.
Some are divorced or have bad marriages, because they cannot relate to a spouse. Their children dislike them – they are harsh parents. They have a poor work history – they fight on the job. They bounce from church to church – they wear out their welcome. They have few devoted friends, because they fight too much. No one wants to be around them.
At the same time, there are others who get along with most everyone, most of the time! They are good spouses, parents, employees, church members, and friends. What makes the difference? It is the chasm between a gracious peacemaker and contentious scorner. The one is approved by God and men; the other is resented by both God and men.
There are two similes in the proverb, as shown by the use of “as.” Coals added to burning coals cause a fire to increase. Wood added to a fire makes it hotter and larger. In the same way, men with proud and fighting spirits cause strife and increase fighting wherever they go (Pr 13:10). They start arguments, conflicts, debates, and quarrels with most everyone.
Examine yourself. Are you esteemed and loved as a gracious peacemaker? Or are you generally avoided as a critical person that causes problems most places you go? Are you expert at praising others, cooperating, forgiving offences, overlooking faults, and being submissive? Or is your reputation one of dogmatic arguing, a resentful attitude, vengeful conflicts, and generally lacking in mercy? Examine yourself. Others already know!
God has called His children to be peacemakers. You are to use all your spiritual power to live peaceably with all men (Matt 5:9; Rom 12:18; Eph 4:3; I Thess 5:13; Jas 3:17-18). The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, and peace (Gal 5:22). Godly and wise men will hate a contentious spirit in themselves or anyone else. They will recognize this terrible evil for what it is and avoid such men with all their might. They will promote peace at all times.
Thankfully, the Prince of Peace is coming soon, and He will rid the universe of those that like to argue, backbite, criticize, debate, fight, tattle, whisper, or slander (Ps 10:12-18; 12:1-4; 17:8-15; Is 29:20-21; Gal 5:19-21). Are you prepared to meet Him? Live today in light of judgment day by being a peacemaker and ending all conflicts you can. God and good men will bless you for it, and you will also immediately see other benefits yourself.