Stop the Fight before It Starts

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.(Proverbs 17:14, ESV)

Avoid Irreverant Babble

argue

Reading the Word

2 Timothy 2:14–19 (ESV)

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

One of the greatest challenges of the Christian life and in the life of the local church is to avoid fighting over things that are meaningless. It causes great harm to personal relationships and can destroy the unity and witness of a church in the community. No one wants to be a part of a church that is tearing itself apart from the inside out. This is why Paul tells Timothy to charge the church to not “quarrel about words” and to “avoid irreverent babble.” Paul was not saying that there is never a time to take a stand. He had no problem correcting Peter (cf. Galatians 2:11). Paul was telling Timothy that some things are not worth it.

Have you ever experienced this in your own life or church? I have heard many pastors and church leaders say that the things that cause the most division in their churches are the little things, not the central doctrines of the Christian faith that must be defended. Would you agree? What types of things should be thought of as “minor”? What are the major things?

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