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“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:8-11 ESV
Some more thoughts on Titus (I am sure you don’t mind, right?), but I have just been thinking on these words a lot.
“We struggle with these commands to ‘avoid…. arguments’ because we know there are things worth disputing, and because it seems divisive to separate from divisive people… there is a difference between needing to divide and loving to divide. A divisive person loves to fight. The differences are usually observable. A person who loves the peace and purity of the church may be forced into division, but it is not his character. He enters arguments regrettably and infrequently. When forced to argue, he remains fair, truthful, and loving in his responses. He grieves to have to disagree with a brother. Those who are divisive by nature lust for the fray, incite its onset, and delight in being able to conquer another person. For them victory means everything. so in an argument they twist words, call names, threaten, manipulate procedures, and attempt to extend the debate as long as possible and along as many fronts as possible.
Divisive persons frequent the debates of the church. As a result the same voices and personalities tend to appear over and over again, even though the issues change. Paul’s words caution us about the seriousness of being ‘divisive.’ Though ego and entertainment may be served by argument, such engagement damages the church and should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary.
At times we must fight (1:9). But if we love the fight, we must question if we are following God’s priorities. Do we really want to devote our lives to quarreling, criticism, and argument? The man of God must not strive (2 Timothy 2:24. 25). He is by nature peaceable and gentle (Titus 1:7; 2:1; 3:2). He stands where he must, but he takes no delight in debates among brethren and does not make them the priorities of his ministry. Nothing other than grace must be the priority of the gospel-centered church.”