Don’t get into a war of words.

One of the best things about the mid-term elections is that they are over. Political commercials have been replaced by advertisements for auto dealerships, wonder drugs, the newest and best cell phones, and the like.

Unfortunately, our political leaders don’t follow the counsel of Paul about “wrangling over words.”

The church is also guilty of trying to win the war of words. It must break God’s heart when his children use Bible verses as ammunition to fire at one another.

We are well advised to take Paul’s words to Timothy to heart.

Remind them of this, and warn them before the Lord that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening (2 Timothy 2.14).

Paul observes that battles waged with words are the source of hurt to people who have to endure them.

Think of the harm done to small children, when they hear their parents shouting and arguing.

Think of the damage done to nations, when their political leaders stoop to the kind of negative advertising that we have witnessed during the recent mid-term election.

Consider the ruin that takes place in churches when members and leaders attack one another.

We can’t change the tactics of political parties, but we can commit to following Paul’s counsel in our homes and churches.

Let’s determine to not engage in a war of words with family, friends, and church members.

There is an alternative that can be pursued.

The Alternative

The alternative is to imitate Jesus and model your language after the word of God.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth (2 Timothy 2.15).

Words are a reflection of character. That is why Paul first addressed the issue of character.

Jesus made the connection between character and communication clear.

He said, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

“The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure” (Matthew 12.34-35).

The first order of business is to determine if we presented ourselves to God or not.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul made the surrender of self-centeredness the believer’s top priority.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship.

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12.1-2).

If we desire to no longer engage in a war of words, we need to follow Paul’s guidance.

(1) We will remove the “self” from the throne of our lives and ask God to rule our hearts.

(2) We will turn away from the controversies and values of our culture.

(3) We will inform our minds with the things of God and live aligned with his will.

The result is that we will know and do God’s will.

One More Warning

Paul sandwiched his positive message between two warnings. He returned to the theme that began in verse 14 and wrote:

“Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene.

“Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying resurrection has already occurred. They are upsetting the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2.16-18).

Piety was the most valued virtue in the Greco-Roman world. Impiety was the exact opposite.

Harmful speech produces impiety, ungodliness, dishonesty, and wickedness in those whom it influences.

Paul said that profane chatter spreads like gangrene.

Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Both Paul and Mark Twain are right. That is why followers of Jesus should follow Paul’s direction to work on their inside condition and avoid harmful speech.

What About the Resurrection?

Paul seldom mentioned opponents by name. The false teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus was so serious that he made their identity known.

We only know one side of the issue, so it is difficult to know exactly what was meant by the claim that the resurrection had already occurred.

It is possible that the false teaching had to do with the Greek idea of the immortality of the soul.

Whatever the issue, the point is that followers of Jesus need to imitate his character and speech.

That is a lesson we can apply in 2021 just as it was important in the first century.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have produced a video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling channel.

Please email your prayers to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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