Reminder #5: Avoid quarrelling
Remind them to . . . avoid quarreling . . . (Titus 3:1–2, ESV)
Some of us just love a good fight. I’m not talking about the Madison Square Garden or MMA variety. I’m talking about the quarrels sans bloody noses and black eyes (usually) — the ones fought with lips rather than fists.
It’s unfortunate, but many a church have headlined the local coffee shop gossip session (see yesterday’s post) because of the infamous ability to fight over the most minuscule and insignificant things. Everything from carpet, choir robes and casseroles are fair game for a little verbal jab or fiery exchanges.
But church isn’t the only place where the gloves come off. In fact, it’s frequently around those with whom we’re the closest that the most bitter fights can take place. Family and loved ones are usually the people who have born the brunt of our worst moments. Some of us don’t even really need a reason to bicker; just a reasonable topic and breathing soul with whom to pick the fight and it’s on!
But this isn’t God’s plan for us. If you’re known as a contentious, hart-to-get-along with person, don’t proudly wave that banner! God’s desire is for us to avoid quarrelling. Some Bible translations render this phrase: “be peaceable.” Either way you read it, we understand that we are to be people of peace. We are to build bridges, not destroy them. Jesus blessed the peacemakers (Matt 5:9) and honors those who strive to build unity (Eph 4:1-3).
Does this mean that we’re a bunch of soft pushovers who stand for nothing lest we “start something”? No! Standing for the truth of God’s Word and biblical and moral principles is much different than being hard-nosed. How can you tell the difference?
- Not Biblical: When it’s sinful quarrelling, it’s usually about something not addressed in the Bible. I may be fighting about a certain way I want a project done, where to go for dinner, how to spend some money, etc. If I’m not standing on an important biblical principle, I need to take some time to reconsider my hardline stance.
- Pride: When I’m quarrelling rather than taking a stand for convictions, I’m usually brimming over with pride. I want my way and I want it now! I’m not humbly engaged in a discussion, I’m maneuvering and positioning myself to get what I want. We need to prayerfully check our heart to see if this is the case. If so, confess it to God and ask him to help you approach the issue in a spirit of humility.
- Mean-spiritedness: Chances are, if I’m quarrelling I’m not being loving. And probably it’s more than an absence of love and a presence of ugliness. Some of us know how to use our words to manipulate and down-right hurt people.
- Look for patterns: Do you find yourself disagreeing with people . . . a lot? Do you love to debate? Do you have more relationship rifts than you can count? Then it’s very possible that you are not a peaceable person. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time for debating. There are hills to die on, but do you find yourself dying on every hill you climb? Ask a close friend for their opinion and an honest assessment. It may be hard to hear but “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6).
Remember. . . be a peacemaker and avoid quarrelling.