Avoid quarreling!

2 Timothy 2:23-26 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

The world of social media produces a constant flow of profound debates. For example, last night a decorated journalist on Twitter offered a joy-rave that finally, dogs live in the White House again. Earlier rants about ice cream or the color scheme of Air Force One have now yielded to the political significance of pet dogs!

This produced in me a strong temptation to publish a rant about the pathetic nature of journalism today… but right before I hit “enter” the Lord gently whispered, “Avoid foolish and ignorant controversies…”

Thoughtless, yet heated words on social media and elsewhere (including far too many church meetings) stir the flesh and produce useless arguments, cynical rants, hurt feelings, wasted time and energy, and worst of all a lost opportunity for real, edifying communication.

When Paul penned this advice to Timothy, it was written from a Roman prison to mentor the young pastor concerning foolish, ignorant controversies. Critical doctrine aside, Paul’s instruction warned Timothy and all serious believers to recognize superficial conversations that pretend to be significant but serve to generate quarrels. Wise people will stay out of such conversations. Nevertheless, they will also learn to recognize when a controversy contains important spiritual issues, and when it does, they will carefully and patiently express the truth without quarreling, fully confident that God’s Holy Spirit alone is able to effectively persuade those in error. Love and gentleness have a way of expressing truth powerfully, and kindness may endear even nasty political enemies.

So, stay out of foolish and stupid controversies — because they will generate quarrels. Learn when a real opportunity to express truth appears, and then, just speak the truth in love.

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