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Thankfully Agreeing:  Cure for Controversy

The Question:

Isn't controversy and debate over Biblical topics OK? I mean as a way to learn?

The Answer:

Our newspapers are filled with controversy. Everyday we hear of labor disputes, lawsuits, civil rights cases, divorces, disagreements, violence, and unrest. Competition is praised in our culture; cooperation is often seen as sign of weakness. How should a Christian conduct themselves in the midst of all this "chaos?"

2 Timothy 2:23-24 Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

A controversy is a prolonged public argument or debate, a dispute or quarrel. A quarrel is an angry dispute or fight with words, a cause of dispute or disagreement. Some say that this verse only covers a "foolish controversy". Well, how would you define a foolish argument or controversy? Or what would be a WISE controversy? Or is controversy ever wise?

There are plenty of things that we can discuss without having to quarrel, but there are somethings that ALWAYS cause quarrels. One of them, in a multi-denominational place like this, is putting down a particular denomination. What we strive to do is keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. We know there are differences of opinion, but strive to major on those things in which we are in agreement, such as exalting Christ as Savior and Lord.

Whenever someone starts judging and criticizing and condemning another part of the Body, then we're not only disobeying the Word, but we are heading for division. You might say, "But we MUST defend the truth". Don't you see, what you defend is YOUR version of the truth, as the one you are contending with is defending, just as vigorously, THEIR version of the truth.

And what will quarreling get you? The Bible says it profits NOTHING. We are told in the Bible to seek the truth, to dig down deep in the Word so that we can be built up on the only foundation there is, the bedrock of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we are not supposed to dig into people.

Look at this verse: Romans 14:1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

The first word is ACCEPT your brother - whether you agree with doctrine or not, even if he's weak in the faith, and don't get into arguments about disputable matters. Even in our "discussions" we can get out of hand sometimes, but just remember that you might be hurting someone. For example, in issuing anti-catholic remarks - there are many catholics who chat here.

What is a "disputable matter"? Who judges what is disputable? A dispute is an argument. Disputable matters are anything that causes an argument, and not only the things that Paul specificially lists in Romans chapter 14 such as what day to worship on.

Let's go a little deeper: Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

When you enter into controversy, you are in effect saying that you are bringing judgement on that other person's belief - but Jesus is his master and his judge.

Now look at the next verse Romans 14:5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Notice that it says that every one should be fully convinced IN HIS OWN MIND. Hmmmmmm - what does that mean?

Look at verse Romans 14:22: So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Could that mean there are some things that you should just keep to yourself?????? What determines what we CAN say then?

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

So controversy, arguing, puts stumbling blocks in your brother's way. How far should you go to keep from doing this?

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Make EVERY effort to make peace and build each other up. We are also told to make EVERY effort to keep the unity we have in:

Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Now I've been criticized for refusing to put down certain beliefs that some disagree with. But I never responded to criticism or a judgemental attitude, so why should anyone else?

Judge in the Greek is krino - which means to act as judge and jury and pass sentence on someone. This is reserved for the righteous Judge, our Father God.

1 Corinthians 4:4-5 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

It all boils down to attitude, and we are to have a loving, non-judgemental attitude to our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Controversy does not create an atmosphere of speaking the truth in love. Our goal should be to mutual edification. Edification means to build up, not tear down.

Let's go one step further. The Bible says: "If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."

There is power in agreement between believers in Christ Jesus. So let's stop fighting and start agreeing.

Prayer: Daddy on High, help me find areas of agreement with my brothers and not seek areas of dispute. AMEN.

Thought for the day: Partnership promotes prayer power.

Psalms 131:1-8 My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.

Psalms 133:1-3 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. FOR THERE THE LORD BESTOWS HIS BLESSING, even life forevermore.

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