Put away the sledgehammer

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” (2 Tim. 2:23-26). This is the third time in this paragraph that Paul advises Timothy not to have anything to do with pointless controversies (vs. 14,16).

People like to win, there is no doubt about that, and social media has given everybody with an opinion an opportunity to state it as an indisputable fact to secure victory.  The truth matters little as no corroborating evidence is introduced to support a position – the only thing that matters is victory.  Total annihilation of the “idiot” opposing their views leads to pages and pages of disputes, quarrels, slander, and rage.  The worst is that I refer to the multitudes of verbal fights that occur almost daily between Christians in real life, especially on social media sites like Facebook.  Now, Paul was not actually referring to Christians quarreling with other Christians, but the sad fact is that if we cannot even respect each other, how would we respect those who oppose our Christianity?  And how would they respect us?

In respect to the context, do you become embroiled in endless quarrels with those who oppose your Christian views?  I will be the first to admit that I have been guilty of that in the past.  How can they be so “stupid” that they cannot see what we do? How can anyone be so “dumb” that they cannot accept the mercy and grace of God and reach for their salvation?  We cannot fathom their ignorance, so we become angry and resort to beating them with the Bible to try and slap some sense into them.  And then, because our pride gets ahead of our common sense at some point, we refuse to extricate ourselves from the quarrel and escalate the conflict further.  But, Paul does not want us to act that way.  “…the Lord’s servant…”, which means you and I, should not be quarrelsome, “but kind to everyone.”  We need to learn how to discuss our differences, not as the world does, using fear and rage, but with the gentleness of Christ.

When we speak, we should do so with the patience of a “nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7).  Kindness goes a long way, and we should never forget that we project Christianity with our actions.  We do not speak for ourselves when we approach or react to those who are still in the world.  When we speak, we speak for Him, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…” (2 Cor.  5:20).  That’s right, brothers and sisters, we are His ambassadors. God uses us to deliver His message to seeking ears, even if they do not appear to be so at first.  We have all heard of the saying, “Think before you speak,” and nothing is truer, whether we are dealing with fellow Christians or unbelievers.  Our actions could very well determine the destiny of those we are speaking to, so we should choose our words carefully and act in the most loving way possible.  Also, remember the following; when you fight with other believers, the world is watching.

Nothing shows our ambassadorial attitude more than the way we treat fellow Christians.  If we preach peace and unity, we should exemplify those same Godly qualities.  Instead of engaging in needless disputes, learn to discern when a disagreement moves from mutual respect to the quarreling octagon of hatred and leave.  Do not fall into the devil’s trap of pride to “win at all costs.”  Keep your language free from harsh words and deescalate the situation. Importantly, know when to remain silent and when to walk away.  Always remember, a battle lost does not determine the outcome of a war, and a seed planted today may only spout and grow far in the future.  Stop trying to win an argument with a figurative sledgehammer, or better still, don’t quarrel in the first place.

Have you ever seen those videos of animals caught in a trap or something similar and then watched as it reacts almost violently when a human approaches to free them?  Have you ever noticed how long it takes the person to gain the trust and what attitude they approach the animal with?  Calm, deliberate movements and well-chosen, soothing words are what calm the animal long enough to be able to be freed from the trap.  Not saying people are wild animals, but I think it safe to assume the same approach will be successful with those caught in the devil’s snare.

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