Ever watch one of the movies where a small break in a dam takes place. You watch as the water is let out only in a trickle. The problem is that the pressure behind that trickle of water is tremendous. Soon the little place where the water is leaking cracks further under that pressure and becomes larger. More water is let out resulting in more pressure on that place. At some point there is a breaking point where the entire dam begins falling apart and the water begins careening out of the dam. Up until the point where the dam begins falling apart - there is an opportunity to stop the disaster. What is amazing is that when the earliest "letting out" of the water starts, the only real way of dealing with the problem is to release the water at the base of the dam and lessen the pressure on the breach in the dam. If this is not done - and the original crack is not repaired - the dam will eventually break and cause tremendous devastation. Now back to our Proverb today.
The beginning of strife is like the crack in the dam. This is not good because if left undealt with, it will make for a very serious 'breakout' of quarrelling. A fight is coming the longer that we do not deal with the very onset of strife in our hearts and minds. To leave it there is to embrace the coming quarrel and the problems it will engender.
The counsel God gives is to abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. That means that we should die to ourselves and to our desire to make our point. We should resist throwing a little guilt in someone's direction - or a little barb to get back a little for a slight we feel. We should abandon the wrong pursuit of this difficulty and instead, should allow the comment, the slight, the supposed or real insult, or just the grouchiness we feel to die as God takes it from us. Just one last thought though. If you have an entire dam of feelings and pent-up anger that is pressuring you to argue or quarrel, it would be wise to get with God to see what is at the root of your problem with this person. The reason I say this is that there are times when we truly do have issues that will require us to examine our hearts - examine our relationships with others - and draw down the water (i.e. the anger and resentment) that fills the dam so that the pressure to react and "let out" a dispute is lowered significantly. But in the meantime - just die to yourself and what you want to say. It is better to do that than to have the quarrel break out and with it have damage that is far worse to the relationship result.