Last week, I had a long conversation with a friend of mine regarding the connection between baptism, salvation, and church membership (I know, nerdy pastor stuff). During this conversation, we found that we differed regarding the timeline of baptism and church membership. This sparked further conversation. He told me the reasons for his view. I told him the reasons for mine. The conversation progressed very friendly. As it ended, we both left encouraged to think more precisely about baptism and membership.
As I was walking away from this conversation, I was reminded of the passage in 2 Timothy I preached a few weeks ago.
“But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels.” – 2 Timothy 2:23 CSB
In response, I praised God that the conversation I had just left did not violate this command. Therefore, I would like to provide a few thoughts for healthy discussion (even if you disagree with someone) from 2 Timothy 2:23.
Don’t Be a Fool. The Scriptures speak abundantly about the fool. The passage regarding the fool that always sticks out to me is Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God!’” The fool is the person that is not willing to submit his/her life to the lordship of God. In their heart they believe they are lord.
So how does this apply to healthy discussion? Jesus is lord over this discussion you are having. In his good providence, God has placed this person in your life. As a Christian, we are called to represent our God to the people around us; specifically this person you are disagreeing with. Therefore, when we are in these conversations, we should ask, “How do I surrender to Jesus’ Lordship in this conversation?” This question helps us see that, like everything in life, the conversation is not about us. It is about Jesus Christ. This is a great perspective change. If you do this, I believe you will be amazed at the ways in which God will use you in the life of those around you.
Look to Learn. This passage commands us to reject ignorant disputes. Ignorance is defined as the lack of knowledge. Therefore, an ignorant dispute is a dispute that does not result in greater knowledge. This happens because many times we simply try to prove the other person wrong. We don’t desire to learn from what the other person is saying. They might not cause you to change your mind, but their disagreement can help you learn why you hold to your position all the more.
In discussion, ignorance can be a close cousin to arrogance. We do not desire to learn because we believe we are right, and no one could break our rock-solid logic. Don’t you see the arrogance in this? The Bible speaks clearly about God’s feelings toward arrogance, and they are not good. Therefore, let’s have conversations in order to learn from one another. Let’s disagree upward. Let’s not let our disagreements spiral down into disputes and quarrels.
Recognize The Signs of a Fight. In this passage, Paul reminds Timothy that foolish and ignorant disputes give birth to babies called quarrels. A quarrel is another word for a fight. Therefore, imagine a situation in which you are having a discussion with someone you disagree with. You have practiced the above principles. You have submitted the conversation to the lordship of Christ. You have taken off your arrogant hat and put on your learning hat. Yet, you see that the other person is getting frustrated. What do you do?
This is where the command of the text (reject) has a double application. Sometimes, we need to stop ourselves from being foolish and ignorant. Other times, we need to help others not be foolish and ignorant. Therefore, we stop the conversation. Whatever this conversation is about, it is not worth the fight that it is about to start. Therefore, reject the conversation. While you might be ready for it, the other person is not. The conversation is helpful to no one. Come back to it again another day.
Disagreements are a normal part of life. We all have different upbringings, personalities, and opinions that will clash at some point. Some of these disagreements deserve a conversation, others do not. I pray that these few thoughts derived from 2 Timothy 2:23 will be helpful to you when that time comes.