Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Even if you have nothing but dried bread to eat, it is better to live in a home where there is peace than to live in a luxurious house where there is constant bickering and strife. Strife is difficult to stop once it has started; therefore, the time to put an end to strife is before it begins. When you perceive that contention is about to commence, back off. Do not be concerned about what others will think if you do not pursue a contentious matter and “defend your rights”. To refuse to be drawn into a quarrel is honorable and requires a special kind of courage.
A discreet man is slow to anger; his honorable character is demonstrated by his ability to overlook a transgression. It takes a man of great understanding to be slow to anger, as God is, but the spirit of a quick-tempered man is quickly ignited; if a book were written about his way of life, it would be titled, “In Praise of Foolishness”. A wise man restrains himself and is patient with his neighbors, but a fool is quickly angered; he takes advantage of every mistake his neighbor makes in order to increase his own stature and wealth. A wise man would rather suffer a little inconvenience than to humiliate his neighbor because he made an error.
If you feel that you have been wronged by a neighbor, go work it out with him alone, saying nothing to anyone else. You will be humiliated if you falsely accuse him before others and later learn that you are the one who is really at fault. Be very slow to enter into a controversy with anyone, for it will be an indelible stain upon your reputation if it is proved that your adversary, whom you publicly condemned, is in the right.
Fools leap eagerly into heated quarrels; as a result, they often find themselves stuck in the middle of trouble that was none of their business to begin with. Their meddlesome behavior is as senselessly irritating as that of a man who tries to pick up a dog by his ears.
Do not fret yourself concerning what whisperers are saying about you. What others say is between them and God. If you sneak around, eavesdropping on others’ conversations in order to find out what they are saying about you, you may well hear one of your friends, employees, or even one of your own children cursing you. But you know in yourself that there have been times when you have spoken evil of someone in authority over you, but afterward you changed your mind and regretted your hasty words. So, do not be overly curious to hear what you already know is being said.
The man who has command of himself and is slow to become angry is greater than a mighty warrior; anyone who rules his own spirit is mightier than a conqueror of nations. The man who has no control over his own spirit is like a city with no defenses; anything can and will come in and go out. He is swayed by whatever spirit comes along. But the man who has control of himself is not overwhelmed by the spirits around him, and he uses peace as a weapon, quenching strife before it can burst forth as a raging flame. He is a peacemaker, a genuine son of God. You will learn that when you are completely subdued under the hand of God, His unconquerable authority passes through you to rule over everything and everybody around you. You cannot then be overcome by evil; instead, you will overcome evil with good.
Avoid close associations with people whose mood swings are unpredictable and extreme. They can turn against you as quickly as they can befriend you. Their calamity is certain, and when they fall, they will try to drag as many as they can with them into destruction. Do not befriend a man who is given to anger and regularly flies into uncontrollable rages, for as time passes, friends come to share traits, and if you become like him, your soul will find itself in chains. A quick-tempered man speaks and acts hastily, like a fool. His ungoverned anger makes him a living testimony of foolishness, advertising it to the world, and anger that erupts from a proud spirit is especially cruel. The man who engages in this evil is scornful of the coming Judgment.
Secret hatred, my son, is especially dangerous. It will show itself as love even as it draws you toward a hidden snare. The heart of such a man is a storehouse of cunning deceit. When a man hates you openly, you must beware, but at least you know where that man stands. Hidden hatred is a double danger. You must learn to be a perceptive judge of character, for some men know how to disguise hatred with fair words. When they speak, do not believe them, for everything that God hates is in the heart of a deceitful man. A deceiver thinks he is not recognized for what he really is, but that is only because he is blind to what the wise can see. He deceives himself and does not know that God will expose his wretchedness to the entire world. The man who disguises hatred with lies and who slanders those who are good is a fool.
Hatred motivates a man to publicize the faults of others; it needlessly stirs up strife, but a loving disposition enables a man to overlook transgressions of others and to strive for peace. Those who are merciful to others are blessed, for they shall obtain mercy from God, but the cruel are cursed by God, for by cruelty a man sows seeds of sickness and trouble for himself.
A good man is compassionate, but your compassion must be guided by discretion, lest you become a dumping ground for someone else’s problems. It is useless for you to help an irascible man out of trouble, for after he is delivered, his peevish personality will lead him right back into it. Such a man must be punished; leave him alone. An habitually angry man stirs up trouble wherever he goes and is constantly sinning; leave him to his trouble. His words and actions are like coal and wood cast into a small fire; he makes tense situations worse. Strife pleases him because he has a secret love of sin. He doesn’t know that those who are looking for trouble are already in it.
By many proofs, I have learned that those with cooperative spirits receive special benefits in this life. Two who work peaceably together can accomplish more than two who work separately. If a man is injured while working with another, he will be quickly helped, but if a man is injured while working alone, there is no one there to help him, and his injury may be made worse. Two lying in bed together stay warmer on a cold night than one alone. A bandit can more easily surprise and prevail against a single traveler, while two traveling together can better withstand his attack. And in almost any endeavor, the work of three who labor diligently together in harmony is successful.