Not Quarrelsome

“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome” (2 Tim. 2:24). Notice how the word “quarrelsome” is used in Acts 7:25,26, “And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting (quarreling) together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace.” Stephen’s powerful and courageous preaching in the early church was referring to Moses, the prototype deliverer. His deliverance was from the taskmasters of Egypt, but Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would deliver us from the taskmaster of sin. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

Every attempt to bring freedom is contested, whether it is political or spiritual, and people will always be divided by how it can be achieved. The key is to avoid being quarrelsome and degenerating into a fight with one another. I never argue with an inquirer, because it doesn’t accomplish anything. Winning arguments doesn’t necessarily win converts. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

When I taught evangelism at the seminary, I didn’t teach the students how to win the argument. I taught them how to avoid it. The reason a nuclear physicist doesn’t trust in Christ is the same reason the un-educated manual worker doesn’t trust in Christ. They don’t want to. It is a moral issue, not an intellectual issue. There are some really smart Christians and some not so smart, and the same for non-believers. If someone just wants to argue, I suggest they go outside and start without me. If someone steadfastly says, “Well, I believe this and this.” I say, “Okay. I disagree, but that is your choice, and I respect that.”

On the other hand, I will stay up all night and dialogue with the person seeking truth. I respect a pastor who questions my theology, because it is his responsibility to ensure that truth is being taught, but I won’t engage in an argument (fight). The apostle Peter wrote, Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Dr. Neil

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