Paul begins to focus on the church Timothy is shepherding. There seems to be a lot of unproductive quarreling going on. Debates over matters that don’t matter. It’s time to let the unimportant go and focus on what really matters; being a “worker who has no need to be ashamed” (verse 15b).
This body was caught up in arguing over meaningless things. So many “debates” seem critical at the time. Where and how do you draw the line between what matters and doesn’t matter? I guess the “dividing line” is eternal consequences. Does this issue really matter in the end?
Another “dividing line” for me is, “Will my arguing the point make any difference?” I had to learn that one the hard way; many times over! I’m reminded of a line from the move The Pacifier where Duane Johnson said; “There is no highway. There is only my way!” I think I took that view personally on far too many occasions.
Sometimes the issue really does matter but arguing about it only makes the other stick firmer to their point of view. Living out the truth in front of them or waiting for another to provide the proof is more productive.
“Correcting his opponents with gentleness” (verse 25) is a LOT better answer. That “gentleness” can even come in the form of letting go of the battle. This opens up a place for God to bring the truth to light instead. Pray for your “opponent” instead of beating them about the head with “your truth”; even when your truth is truth.
Pick your battles. Is this “battle” life and death RIGHT NOW? Is there a better way to win this “battle?” Is this “battle” YOUR battle? Maybe someone else should be the one waging it instead of you. Maybe that someone can’t wage it because you are in the way “hardening the battleground.”
One of the battles mentioned by Paul in today’s reading was a debate over whether the “resurrection had already happened” (verse 18). I can see how this could be “upsetting” to the faith of some. My response to those who try to assert that point would be, “Look at the evidence.” That was Paul’s response too. “The Lord knows those who are His” (verse 19). In other words, look around you. Do you see the evidence of that? Jesus promised that He would reign on Earth after the resurrection. It sure didn’t look like it then, or now. Also, do you see those who were followers of Jesus when they died walking around now? Subject decided. No, it has not happened yet. But it WILL happen when God is ready. So keep walking in the faith and leave that debate alone. Arguing about when and how won’t make any difference.
I guess that is one of the debates happening now that keep trying to suck me in; vicariously at least. There are so many people out there, many well-meaning ones too, who are preaching Jesus return by a certain date. But Jesus Himself said we won’t and don’t need to know. “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7). Only God knows and anyone saying different should clue you in to the fact that you need to RUN the other direction! My mother in law gets swept up by these predictions and wants to pass them on to me. I have gently, but firmly, told her I want no part of them. But rather than arguing with her about it, as I used to do, I remind her that we don’t need to worry. God is still in control and we don’t need to be afraid, no matter what is coming.
Father God, thank You for teaching me how to NOT argue my point! Thank You for growing me to the point that I can let it go and let You handle it. I know there are times I do need to take a stand. Thank You for the wisdom to know the difference between these two options. Thank You also for teaching me HOW to stand my ground effectively. Arguing out of ignorance or illogically solves nothing. It puts me in the wrong no matter the point I was trying to make.
Thank You Jesus that ALL Your promises are true. YES! You are coming again. It doesn’t matter what others think they know or have figured out. Only the Father knows when. I trust You to be ready when He says it’s time. And I trust Him to know when that time is. Everything else is useless speculation. I also trust You to care for me in the meantime. I don’t know if I will see Your return in my lifetime, but I know Your provision and protection will last my lifetime and beyond. That is all I need to know.
For the “arguments” and “confrontations” I would LOVE to have with my children regarding faith, I know I have to leave them in Your hands. I wage them with prayer and little pieces of “I wonder” moments that You provide. IF there is a time YOU want me to step up one of those confrontations, please let me know in unmistakable terms. Let me do nothing out of selfish motives or vain desires. Help me to live my life as a testimony to You that they can read a million miles away! My prayer is that You would be as real in their lives as You are in mine. I mean personally real and in relationship with them as Lord and Savior. That is my ultimate prayer. Nothing else matters in the end.