“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26
Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus never started a quarrel? This strikes me as remarkable. This isn’t the only way Jesus is different from you and me. His values are so far removed from the world’s it’s a miracle that we notice him at all. I was recently talking with a friend about how most protagonists in the bible are described as being good-looking. But, unlike them, Jesus was described as having “no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” Isaiah 53:2b.
How “other than” Jesus was and is! He is so non-fleshy it’s shocking when recognized. He didn’t just not sin, He loved when it was humanly impossible to do so. He humbled himself in so many ways. He came as a baby in the flesh to a poor family and was not even considered handsome. On top of that He was raised in Nazareth, a small town with little worth in the eyes of the ancient world. In essence, Jesus personified humility to humanity. Thankfully, this ability to die to oneself was given to us by Jesus when He deposited His Spirit in our hearts. The actual power to never quarrel was placed securely within His temple. Wow! This is not to say that Jesus never had conflict, rather, Jesus lived what Paul is teaching to Timothy.
My heart broke as I read Paul’s words because the memories of so many stupid arguments are fresh in my mind. It was only about six weeks ago that I pummeled our oldest son with my point of view, degrading him in attitude if not in words for having a different opinion on something that seemed so clear to me. Really? What is the point of that? Division and distrust were not things I strived to cultivate in the relationship with my son. There are no parenting books that I’m aware of that recommend verbal jousting. In the end I realized it was not only destructive but just stupid. Not the conversation or the conflict but the argument that led to a quarrel. “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful…” This, my friend, does not come naturally to me. There are some things that trigger a mighty destructive quarrel bullet, like when I feel demeaned or dismissed or am made to feel stupid. Also, I can be kind, but to everyone? This is truly impossible without Christ.
Therefore, when I feel hopeless about measuring up to the standards of 2 Timothy I recite John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” Isn’t that true? Apart from Christ we cannot live at peace with others, not even our loved ones. Apart from Christ I cannot NOT get into stupid arguments. Apart from Christ I cannot be kind to everyone. Like a branch that is dependent on the vine for life I remember that He is “other than” the world and cling to Him for His glory.