Quarreling

14 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. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

2 Timothy 2:14-26 (NIV)

Disagreements are a common element in human relationships. Different perspectives influenced by different experiences lead to a clashing of ideas and opinions. In most cases, calm discussions can resolve these disagreements. There are a variety of techniques and communication tools which may be employed to bring about a resolution. When people involved in a disagreement are unwilling or incapable of de-escalating the argument, they must seek outside assistance or the situation will have a negative impact on their relationship, their lives, or the lives of others. False information and/or false accusations can easily be the outcome of endless quarrelling.

In the passage from Paul’s letter to Timothy, Paul warns against engaging in quarrelsome discussions. He tells Timothy that nothing can be gained through endless arguments and chatter. This type of behavior will only increase the false information which is being spread. Instead, Paul encourages Timothy to try to gently lead those with a different view towards what is correct in God’s eyes.

Within the history of Christianity, there have been many times involving quarrelsome conversations. Splits among those who claim Christ as Lord have happened throughout the history of the Church and continue today. These disagreements and splits also occur among individual communities of faith. At times they are over theological understandings such as Paul lifts up. Other times they are over leadership, financial, and authority questions.

All of us would do well to heed Paul’s words shared with Timothy today. We are better if we avoid being engaged in quarrelsome conversation. This does not mean we do not participate in discussions involving different viewpoints. Paul is expressing the idea of not allowing these discussions to escalate into a quarrel. Gently share our viewpoints with one another and listen to the opposing views with honest sincerity. Be open to understanding why a person may view a situation or concept as they do. Share the reasons you have the viewpoints which you do without demeaning an opposing one. Often the truth exists somewhere in between.

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