“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:23-26).
Discipline and correction isn’t a bad thing. In Rev. 3:19, Jesus tells the church in Laodicea, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” With that in mind, what is a good argument? I think, today, many people don’t know whether something should be defended or let go. Bill Hull, author of The Disciple Making Pastor, writes (about 2 Tim. 2:23-26), “This is one of several passages that calls upon leaders to correct those who have fallen prey to false teachings or practices” (207). Most people don’t like confrontation, and even those who do, don’t know why or how they should correct and reprove another person. But, one of the first things we should know about biblical discipline is: “It is a part of helping others keep their commitments to God” (207).
There are some things worth fighting for and there are some things that are better left alone. Paul tells Timothy to have nothing to do with stupid arguments. So, what is an example of a stupid argument? If it’s ok, I’ll mention something silly. It’s stupid to argue over what kind of cups the church should buy for the church picnic, or the kind of tea they should use. It’s also foolish to make a biblical argument from a verse of Scripture taken out of context. Ok now, what kind of argument is worth fighting for and how should we go about it? I think that the Gospel should be defended and we should gently correct someone if they are in error; but that also means that you should have a good understanding of the Gospel, or else, you will not be able to defend it. I think that we should willingly (and lovingly) defend what we believe about marriage, biblical manhood and womanhood, abortion, and many other things.
Now, look back at 2 Tim. 2:23-26. And what’s the purpose of biblical correction with gentleness? That “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth . . . [that] they may escape the snare of the devil.” We cannot bring glory to God by making stupid arguments about things that don’t really matter. And when we do try to help someone by gently correcting them, it must be in love, for their restoration, so that God might grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of truth, so that God might be glorified by our words. Discipline and correction isn’t a bad thing, but doing it wrong is. I think we have too many people in the church today that like to argue for the sake of arguing, but don’t care to love for the sake of Christ. If the second is missing, the other becomes hypocrisy. Be careful not to make stupid arguments, and pray diligently that God will help you to be a good ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), always remembering that without Him, we have no hope nor righteousness.