Fighting over Words (2 Timothy 2)
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel over words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. (2 Timothy 2:14)
How often have you heard someone getting into an argument or debate on social media? How often does each side want to pull out every stop in order to shut their opponent down? How often does the argument or debate end up ruining the relationship between the two? How often does it ruin relationships with anyone who follows it?
Quarreling over words is generally a bad thing. So many people have so many different definitions for the same word. Growing up in the 80s, “bad” meant “good.” Just listen to Michael Jackson sing about it. Being just a month removed from Christmas, we sing, “don we now our gay apparel.” Are we celebrating the Christmas holiday by dressing as homosexuals? The Christmas carol speaks of dressing in a way that exhibits your joy for the season.
Words can change meaning. So quarreling over them leads to nothing but disaster. However, we are called to proclaim God's Word. The one Word that never changes its meaning. God's Word always speaks of His redemption of the world through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. This has always been the focus of the Scriptures. From the very beginning.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they were promised a Savior who would die and rise again. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Satan would do everything he could to derail Jesus' ministry, but he would ultimately fail. The best he could do was bruise Jesus' heel by churning up the peoples to crucify Him.
This one great Word that never changes its meaning is what Paul encourages Timothy to remind his flock about. “Remind them of these things.” Through the repetition of the reading of God's Word, we see God's great promises coming true in Christ. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” God's Word has free course throughout the world. Nothing can stop it. People can ignore it. They can argue over it. But it is never bound and kept captive in one place.
This is the power of God's Word. The Word that generates faith through the Holy Spirit. This faith grounds us in the knowledge of what is profitable to teach and what are “foolish, ignorant controversies.” Quarrels come out of these controversies. To avoid the quarrels, we avoid the controversies.
But what happens if you can't avoid it? What happens when someone posts something that appears on your social media news feed that is contrary to God's Word? “Remind them of these things.” Enter the discussion in kindness, patience and gentleness. If you have these three things, there can be discussion. There can be even reproof and rebuke. But there will be no quarrel. Quarrels don't start when one side is kind, patient and gentle. Quarrels start when both sides are harsh, impatient and rough. Christ does not call us to be these things. He calls us to imitate Him, who spoke not a word as He was lead to the slaughter.
Fighting over words leads to quarrels and disaster. Fighting with God's Word, as the sword of the Spirit, leads to repentance. Not necessarily now, but each kind, patient and gentle word plants the seed of the knowledge of the Truth. The Gospel of God's forgiveness of sins through Christ into the heart. This is what God calls us to do for our neighbors, both next door and online. Amen.