Thursday, June 12, 2014

Foolish Arguments and Quarrels

Titus 3:9-11 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

The sun has risen and the day is new. The coffee is finished brewing so you pour yourself a cup of coffee. You grab your iPhone or log into the nearest computer. The first thing you do is log into Facebook and begin reading through the newsfeed.

Sandra Smith's status reads: "Why do people vaccinate their children? Don't they know what kinds of chemicals they are putting into their child's body? Just imagine what will happen when that child is older and they are suffering from disease that was caused by vaccines."

Below Sandra Smith's status is thirty comments filled with arguments for both sides of the vaccination issue. Christians and non-Christians alike are name-calling and putting each other down toward the opposing stance.

You read through the status and list of comments and then go back to your newsfeed. You continue down and read the next one.

Bob Frank's status reads: "Obamacare is beneficial for our country. Check this article out from Huffington Post on what it has done to help others (attached is the article)."

You read the article and then go back to read Bob Frank's comments on the article.

Bob Frank's Friend #1: "You fool! You care nothing about the future of this country and the way this new healthcare system has messed it up for those hardworking individuals.

Bob Frank's Friend #2: "You are an idiot. This is the best thing for everyone. Now, no one has to go without being taken care of."

Bob Frank's Friend #1: "It seems to me you know nothing of what the Founding Fathers did for our country. Time for you to hit the history books."

Bob Frank's Friend #3: "I agree with you, Friend #1. We must get back to how this country started. This new system of healthcare is socialism at it's finest."

And on and on it goes.

You scroll down the newsfeed some more. More posts on opinions. More people lashing out with their opinions and comments. What a depressing way to start the day! Is this the way to a joy-filled life? What is Paul teaching us about in Titus on foolish controversies and arguments?

Recently, I read this quote over a year ago about opinions. It said, " We live in an era in which it is important to have opinions. Not necessarily smart or original ones; almost any opinion will do as long as it's forcefully expressed. When it comes to opinions, we're all living in an intellectual Costco, where it's volume, volume, volume.

It wasn't that long ago that opinions were something carefully considered and weighed, so that they'd stand the test of time and reflect well on the author. Thinkers were like gourmet chefs laboring over an elaborate meal they wanted to be perfect. But today, opinions are like Big Macs- thrown together hastily, served by the billions and not very good for you. (Stephen Randall, Los Angeles Times)"

When I think about what Paul said about arguments and quarrels and read this quote about opinions, I am reminded that arguing and expressing opinions about everything is unnecessary. Paul tells us in verse 9, "these are unprofitable and useless." Do you feel as convicted as I do?

In an age of social media websites, blogs, and texting, it seems everyone has jumped on the argumentative bandwagon. We see a thread of opinions stated, jump on the bandwagon to argue our side, and prove nothing. Most often, the person who originally expressed their opinion feels one way and the person arguing back feels the other way. Is this wise? Does this make us feel better about ourselves? Are we getting anywhere by trying to prove a point?

Paul advises us to warn that person arguing and then "have nothing to do with them." Wow! Do we get up and walk away from the argument or continue on with it?

Many people have been asking me about my disappearance from Facebook. One of the main reasons for it is that I felt the need to get away from the arguing and quarreling of others. If we were face-to-face with one another, would we be having these same arguments? How about the mommy wars?

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.

Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

Solomon gives a lot of wisdom on how to control our mouths and our words. The Bible is filled with ways in which we need to speak. Search the back of your Bible in your concordance to find all the verses having to do with words, speech, your mouth, and tongue.

Ephesians 4:29, 32 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Father, You are Holy. You are good! Forgive me for speaking unkindly to others. Forgive me for the times I involved myself in unnecessary arguments with others. Help me to avoid those who bring me down and involve me in their gossip. Teach me to be blameless and pure. Fill me with your Spirit so that I can discern the times when there is a useless argument and avoid it. Help me to have grace on those who do not understand. Thank you Lord for all that you do to teach me through your Word. May I be good with my time. I want to be close to You and Your Word each day! Amen.

My absence from Facebook is helpful in avoiding the unnecessary arguments. My absence is also for spending less time focusing on me. I don't want to spend time focusing on who I am trying to impress or compare myself to on the internet. I don't want to find myself shaking a finger at people expressing their opinions or waste my time being bothered by the things that don't matter. I am pushing myself to develop and grow interpersonal relationships with others. I don't want to spend my days being an armchair activist. I want to complete the good work God has called me to do here on Earth.

My Aunt Terry is someone who is always smiling and happy. She is one of those joy-filled people who are great to be around. One day I asked her how she stays so happy.

She said, "I don't consume myself with the news. Those stories on a day-to-day basis are unhappy. I don't do Facebook. I spend time outside everyday. I surround myself with happy things."

So here's to no more days of waking up to arguments and news. Here's to days that start in the Word. Here's to making more efforts at building relationships with those who I'm close to and less time with the hundreds of people on Facebook who barely know me (or never see). Here's to surrounding myself with the people I am praying God will fill my life with to be an encouragement and support. Here's to separating myself from those who bring me down. 

My prayer for those reading this blog today is to remember to be careful with the words you post online. Be careful with the words, opinions, and arguments you say to others in person too. No more gossiping! No more time spent proving a point! Be less like the heretics of Paul's day who were trying to argue to death a point of small matter. At the same time, practice grace on those who aren't in the same place as you are in your walk with God. Practice grace on those who do like to spend their days in arguments and turn the other cheek to them. Go in grace and peace, my beloved friends!


Carrie Lynne

*** All names were made up for this blog! :-)

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