Festering the Argumentative Spirit

To God, the “adults” in our society must frequently look like a couple of arguing kids. We are a culture consumed with ignorant arguments that only start fights. We are a people overwhelmed by foolish quarrels. The breakdown of civility and the embrace of immaturity reminds me of this video:

Okay, “adults”, gut-check time. Have you ever been caught in this kind of a ridiculous, repetitious argument? Does the script of this argument sound anything like some frustrating dialogue you’ve had with anyone?

– It’s sprinkling.
– No it’s raining.
– No, it’s sprinkling.
– No it’s raining.
– No, it’s sprinkling.
– No it’s raining.
– My mom told me it’s sprinkling!
– No it’s raining.
– No
– Yes it is.
– My mom told me it’s sprinkling not raining.
– My mom said it is raining.
– No my mom told me it’s sprinkling!
– Because my mom did say raining.
– No my mom says it’s sprinkling!
– Because it’s raining.
– Owww!

– You poked me.
– Say sorry to again
– My mom told me it’s sprinkling!
– No it’s not, it’s raining.
– STOP! STOP!~
– It’s sprinkling outside Macey.
– It’s raining.
– No it’s not!
– Yes it is!
– No, you’re pretty and you’re not real. I’m real.
– Watch – watch we go out there and see.
– I’m not going to see anymore.
– Lets go out there and look.
– It is raining?
– Because see it’s raining.
– No it’s not
– It is raining.
– Ow…
– It is raining.
– You okay?
– It’s raining
– You poked my heart……
– It’s okay.
– You poked my heart……
– Turn around and then I gonna – I gonna get honey – you can’t do that – and ok deal
– You poked my heart……
– Turn around then.

2 Timothy 2:23 says: “Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.”

These types of arguments just end up poking at people’s hearts.

And let’s be honest, many of the things we argue about aren’t worth fighting for. Many arguments don’t actually impact us, or others, positively. Many arguments don’t lead to constructive solutions. Many arguments might seem incredibly important in the moment, but are blindingly unimportant in the long-run. Many arguments stem from selfish issues inside of our immature hearts. Many arguments run far away from child-like trust in our Creator and run deep into the insecurities of needing to get our way or proving our point or demanding our recognition.

Those who often have the ability to bring reason and calm to our culture, all-to-often choose instead to foster the festering of the argumentative spirit. Besides the somewhat twisted mindset that we think children arguing is adorable, have we noticed that a grown person filmed the whole incident? While a boy was getting his heart poked and while an unnecessary argument ballooned into absurdity, someone sat back and enjoyed the show. Whoever filmed this video continued to film this video when instead they could have taught peace. I admit, there is something oddly enrapturing, and sometimes amusing, about watching people wreck themselves through flaring tempers and ridiculous disagreements.

Yes, I know those kids are cute. I’m not a curmudgeon.

In our hyper-argumentative culture, perhaps there isn’t a much more timely passage from the Bible for us to consider than 2 Timothy 2:23-24:

“Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” – 2 Timothy 2:23-24 NLT

Paul intentionally left Timothy in Ephesus to help this important church navigate an increasingly hostile political and social climate. Things were intense. Nero had begun a massive wave of persecution against Christians throughout the Roman Empire. Arrested and imprisoned in Rome, Paul knew his days were numbered. As a result, there was a tremendous amount of pressure back in the Ephesian church to engage in hostile conversations about religion, about politics, and about Paul himself. Many people were trying to undermine the stable foundation that Paul had helped to establish there. As Paul wrote, he realized he didn’t have time to waste on foolish arguments. And he instructed Timothy to avoid such entrapments as well.

Maybe when he was younger, more hot-headed, more determined to argue his way at the expense of others, Paul would have run straight into the fray. The bait would be set by his opponents, and Paul would have clicked on it. Prior to his life-changing encounter with Jesus, that certainly would have been Paul’s approach. But now, as his end drew near, Paul urged Timothy to avoid being sucked into the vortex of idiocy through ridiculous, disagreeing conversations.

Here’s the call: In a culture that produces an abundance of quarrels, followers of Jesus are to set a different path– a lifestyle that pursues personal righteousness and public peace. No one benefits when the Church becomes a a hothouse of  disrespectful discourse.

So, Paul told Timothy, don’t get tangled in the weeds and thorns of foolish conversations.

—-(Part 2 on “Fostering the Good Fight” coming soon)—-
photo credit: Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash
This is available as a sermon from Parkside Church on April 8, 2018: LISTEN

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