Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Arguments


Foolish Arguments
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“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 (NIV)

2020 is shaping up to be another challenging year for my family personally and, it would appear, the world at large. In the U.S. we now have the COVID-19 virus on top of all the silliness and animosity of an election year. As a nation we’re more divided than ever, and those firmly in the right or left camps daily lob accusations and remonstrations at each other as well as those in the middle who refuse to join in. It’s a mess made far worse by social media.

Remove the interpersonal part of communication but keep the speed and ease (unlike mailed letters or even phone calls) and you get the unique set of circumstances that has created our current online interaction. While it truly is great that we can all connect, there are some serious downsides. Every day I see a Facebook post that makes me want to fire off a comment about how ignorant/hateful/wrong it is. It’s hard to scroll by, but I try my best to do just that. If that person is part of my non-virtual life I try to remember its important elements for when I can address them face-to-face and in love. Otherwise I honestly try to weigh it before I wade in.

This verse, among others, always come to mind. Paul is being blunt (and I love it). The message is straightforward; don’t get sucked into a stupid argument because eternity is at stake.

The Internet is full of foolishness and, boy, does it produce quarrels. If it seems as though a lot of posts in social media are tailor-designed to outrage you. SPOILER ALERT: They are! The Internet world runs on what is called engagement: likes, comments, clicks, etc. Content-producing web sites live and die by engagement. If you’re not clicking on their posts they aren’t selling ads or influence or whatever else they’re using to remain in business. The more outrageous a post the more engagement it gets.

The Internet rewards all of our bad behavior with access to content designed to confirm our worst opinions of those we disagree with and to share that confirmation widely with our like-minded friends. It’s no joke that some would say about Facebook that the website isn’t the product, the subscribers are.

While Paul probably couldn’t have conceived of a world in which people interact online, he knew plenty about human beings and how we act when we’re not putting Christ first, others next, and ourselves last. This passage is reminding us of what the standard is for how we act with each other so that the Gospel message that we are supposed to be bringing to the world is not lost. We are to be kind to everyone, and to be gentle with our opponents so that by the Grace of God, they will be led to the truth about Christ and their sin, repentance, and salvation.

We simply can’t allow the squabbles the world spends its time on to distract us from how God has called us to be. The next time you find yourself knee-deep in an argument going nowhere, take a breath, step out of that quagmire, and ask yourself how you got there to begin with. While you’re at it, make a decision to let go of any resentment, access the kindness element of the Fruit of the Spirit of which the Bible says in Galatians 5:22-23 that "against such things there is no law." You literally cannot be too kind! Remember that you’re here to help souls escape the devil and to find redemption in Jesus Christ.

Don’t let anything that the Bible defines as ‘foolish’ and ‘stupid’ be the thing that keeps you from fulfilling the Great Commission.

~*~
Author Bio:
Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction.

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at www.christamacdonald.com.

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