Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife.” I don’t know about you, but a dry morsel does not sound real appetizing. It sounds pretty bland and unfulfilling. In contrast, feasting sounds pretty good. When I think of feasting, I think of lots of food and many choices and eating until I am completely satisfied. So what would ever lead an inspired author to say that a dry morsel can be more pleasing than great feasting? The answer is that it is a house full of arguing, bickering and conflict that makes a feast so undesirable. The Bible says that living in a home full of constant conflict and never-ending strife is so depressing, so defeating and so deflating that it would be more joyful to have only a dry morsel to eat and do so in peace, than to have a great feast but have to eat it in a house full of fighting.
I believe that verse is deadly accurate! In the last 24 years, I have done a lot of counseling with families, and one of the biggest issues I have had to deal with is fighting in the home. If you are raising a child in your home and there is continual conflict, I can make you a guarantee…that child is counting the days until he turns 18, graduates high school, and moves out. I am not saying your child does not love you and your family. I am not saying that your child will not want you involved in his life after he graduates. I am saying that children quickly grow weary when they are inundated with yelling, arguing, and strife. People who have been raised in homes where there is an absence of peace and joy, and conflicts are not resolved in a gracious way, will leave a house where there is plenty of food to go around and will choose to live on their own, without great resources, even if it means eating dry morsels (or Ramen Noodles or ham sandwiches).
One of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is not a lot of money, and it is not great dinners. Instead, focus on giving your children the blessing of living in a home where the peace of God abounds, and there is joy and laughter. Proverbs 17:22 adds, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” I think it is easy for parents to forget these important lessons. It can be easy for moms and dads to think, “Well, our house may be full of strife, but I bought my 16-year-old a new car, so they should be happy” or “I know we fight all the time at home, but I take my kids on nice vacations so they should be fine” or “Sure, I yell and scream at my kids and I fight with their mom, but we have a big home and have lots of stuff, so I’ve been good to my children”. How quickly we can lose sight of what children really need. Many parents have children living under their roof whose bones are dried up because they do not have a joyful heart.
The truth is that children do not need expensive toys and they do not need nice cars, and they do not need fancy clothes. Children do need to grow up in a home where they are taught the Word of God and where they see a living example of what it means to love the Lord with all your heart. Sometimes I wonder if we are raising a generation of young people who are seeking peace much more than they are a feast and if our children wouldn’t be much happier living on dry morsels if that is what it takes to get away from the strife.
No marriage is perfect, and no family lives without conflict. However, the problems that arise can be dealt with in peace or with strife. The next time one of those issues comes up, remember, constant strife is such a hazard, it will make those in your family crave dry morsels over the next feast you offer. If you want your children to love being at home and if you want them to stay near to you, even after they are raised and gone, do not simply offer them great feasts, but rather, offer them a home of peace and joy.