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Don't attend every argument you're invited to

A 40 in 60 Blog

It has never been easier to get into disputes and arguments. There was a time when arguments were restricted to only those in our immediate proximity. To argue with you I had to be in your presence. Today thanks to the power of social media we can be hundreds of thousands of miles away and still be able to verbally destroy each other. Added to this fire is the kerosine of an unending amount of social, religious, cultural and historical things over which we can argue. In the Information Age it seems that the more information we have access to the more we have to disagree about. Adding yet more is the toxic politically divisive atmosphere that pervades our culture. That makes it an even more difficult world to navigate through. As believers we step into this mix with a responsibility and a mandate to represent Jesus and very often we are placed in position to have to speak into very difficult, controversial, but eternal matters.

The Apostle Paul gives great counsel to his spiritual son Timothy regarding how believers ought to handle these opportunities for “intense verbal fellowship” His counsel to Timothy is:


"But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth." 2 Timothy 2:23-25 (NKJV)


It’s interesting to note that Paul says avoid foolish and ignorant disputes. Ignorant disputes is also translated as senseless arguments, ignorant questions, ignorant controversies, stupid discussions. What they all have in common is that they serve no inherent positive life-giving purpose. In fact Paul’s advice is that they only generate strife. What I have learned in over 40 years that I would like to share in 60 seconds is that we don’t need to attend every argument we are invited to. Some discussions are worth attending but most are not. Here are some things (there’s more) that I have learned avoid.

  1. Never attend a discussion with someone looking to prove a point on a topic that you are not prepared for, and they are. Here is what I have found. Those people are not necessarily armed with the truth, but they are equipped to win an argument.

  2. Always answer sincere questions from people looking for clarity and understanding. A hunger for clarity (to understand as well as to be understood) is a sign of a sincere heart.

  3. Never enter a discussion with someone who has come to a conclusion, that is not looking for or is not open to new information.

  4. Always honor and show respect towards those you disagree with, even and especially when they disagree with you. Because your goal is influence not winning an argument.

Paul ends by saying “in humility correcting those in opposition.” Humility is the best way to influence and persuade people. Not by crushing their soul with verbal and emotional missiles that elevate you while destroying them. You may win an argument that way, but you will never win a person that way. As believers our goal is to win people for Christ not arguments. When they surrender their life to Jesus the transforming power and presence of God can renew their mind, change their perspective and dismantle their arguments.

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