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Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies

2 Timothy 2:23 -”Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” (ESV)

This is an important though oft neglected admonition from the Apostle Paul. It is clear and forceful. There are certain types of controversies which we are to avoid all together. This means there will be certain “hot” conversations on blogs to which we ought devote none of our time. There are certain “big” debates which we ought to ignore entirely.

Of course, Paul is not saying to avoid conflict at any cost. This is the same Paul who opposed Peter to his face, publicly (Gal. 2:11-14). This is the same Paul who wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians which are sustained arguments in the face of conflict. When necessary, Paul was fully willing to wade into conflict. But he is warning here that not all conflict is worthwhile.

It requires wisdom to know which controversies are worth engaging and which are not- sometimes much wisdom! But it is important to begin with the awareness that not all deserve engagement.

Here are some questions we can ask to discern whether or not we ought to involve ourselves in specific controversies:

1) Is the gospel or the souls of men at stake? This was Paul’s motivation in Galatians and the Corinthian correspondence.
2) Is this the sort of wrangling over words “which does no good, but only ruins the hearers” (2 Tim 2:14)?
3) Even if this is a worthwhile controversy, is it something I personally need to weigh in on now? Do I have something to contribute helpfully or do I just want to be “in on the conversation”?

UPDATE: I have been asked if in this post I had this or that current controversy in mind. For the record, I had no specific controversy in mind- just how easy it is to be drawn in unnecessarily to arguments that either don’t matter or even important arguments to which we can add nothing of value.

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