We often don’t realize what damage we do when we argue. What we say can damage people and even damage those not part of the argument but are just listening to the exchange. Three times in a few verses Paul reminded Timothy that how we use our words can harm people.
“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen” (2 Timothy 2:14 CSB).
Arguing over words. It is so easy to get drawn into arguments and sometimes over what a word means or what word should be used. Paul wrote to Timothy that this was pointless. The only thing it accomplishes is to ruin those who hear us. After all, if we are arguing over something of no value, who will listen to us when we talk about spiritual matters of great value?
“Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly” (2 Timothy 2:16).
Godless chatter – talking about things that really do not matter and that have nothing to do with who we are as God’s people. This would undoubtedly include talking about sinful things, as Paul said that those who indulge in this become more and more ungodly themselves. How many times do we get pulled into worldly conversations that are not building us up but tearing us (and perhaps others) down. This just leads us away from Jesus.
“Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:22-26).
How many arguments do we get into that are just foolish because they are about things we do not and often cannot know? Positions get taken, people become entrenched, and long quarrels begin. This is the opposite of what we are to be as a servant of Jesus! Our society seems to live on quarrels and tearing people down, which leads to animosity, even between Christian brothers and sisters.
Instead, we need to be gentle and patient. Yes we instruct, we teach, but we do it with gentleness. We aren’t trying to win a fight. We are trying to get people to come to the truth and follow God.
We must not use the truth to club someone over the head so that we can show how knowledgeable we are or to show how wrong they are. We must learn to gently teach so that they will accept what we say – not because we are saying it, but because it is the truth, the word of God.
In this way, we will be helping those who hear us and lead them to live godly lives.
If Christians could look at what they are doing from an eternal perspective we might be more effective in reaching the world for Jesus.
Readings for next week:
22 January – 2 Timothy 1-2
23 January – 2 Timothy 3-4
24 January – Titus 1
25 January – Titus 2-3
26 January – Luke 1:1-38