Picking Your Fight
Sadly, quarreling and division is common in the church. Often times, those who are quarrelsome seem to believe that they have God on their side and then become contentious and argumentative in a sinful way. Since they are fighting God’s cause, anyone who disagrees with them is perceived to be on the other side and those on the other side are treated as if they are against God. In the process, they accuse, slander, quarrel, and cause division.
How we are to live around this kind of behavior is addressed in a few places in scripture. The Bible is clear that we are not to be quarrelsome (1 Timothy 6:4, 11; 2 Timothy 2:14-17; 23-24; Titus 3:2; 3:9). These verses teach that the result of this kind of sinful behavior is that it produces envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, constant friction, does no good to the hearers, leads to more and more ungodliness, spreads like gangrene, leads to quarrels, is unprofitable, and is worthless.
Thankfully, we are not just left with the clear instructions to flee and avoid such behavior, we are also instructed about what we are to put on in Christ. We are to train ourselves for godliness and are to set an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. We are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, peace, and to do this with all those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. We are to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
When Others Respond Badly
Human nature being what it is, when someone chooses to live in a way that glorifies God in the midst of people who are being divisive, those who are divisive do not respond well. The scriptures mentioned teach us to avoid such people. In obedience to scripture, we should do this. But what if we have to remain in contact due to things that are beyond our control. I think of someone in a situation who is under an authority who is allowing this in the home, such as a minor still living with his or her parents. Imagine that 16-year-old hears such talk, what should she do?
If she has appealed and the behavior continues, it is important for her to focus on obeying the Lord by pursuing the things of him, as already mentioned. Yet, this will mean suffering at home. While focusing on pursuing the things of the Lord, it is important that she does not overly focus on what is happening around her.
The book of 1 Peter gives us instructions on how to live when suffering for being a Christian. This young woman is to set her mind fully on the grace that will be brought to her at the revealing of Christ (1 Peter 1:13-16). As she does this, she is to be holy as he is holy.
Since she has the mind of Christ, she will consider herself to have ceased from sin and to be living for the will of God. It is likely that she will be maligned at home and by others, but instead of being intimidated and shamed by this, she can keep in mind that those who malign her will have to give an account to God (1 Peter 4:15, 16). Rather than being shamed, she can glorify God while entrusting her soul to him and doing good.
Fighting, contention, and quarreling are common in the church. Often this fleshly behavior is conducted under the belief that they are fighting God’s cause. Yet scripture is clear that believers are to avoid such behavior and people. It is clear that the results of this behavior are further sin. Instead, believers are to pursue what belongs to the Lord, such as righteousness, peace, gentleness, and love.
Sometimes it is not always possible to avoid such people because others in our lives continue to associate with, or even be accomplices of, such people. Instead of being intimidated and ashamed, we can know that these people will have to give an account to God, we are to entrust our souls to our faithful God, and we are to continue to do good. In this way, we do not participate in sin, are not intimidated by it, and we know how to obey the Lord in such difficult circumstances.