A man is about to be put to death for preaching Christ. He is composing the last known words he left to history, and it is addressed to another, younger preacher. The entire letter is less than 2,000 words, making each sentence all the more meaningful. In the middle of describing “an unashamed workman,” Paul makes this statement, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Tim. 2:23). Paul has just discussed the vitality and value of being a vessel of honor in God’s house (20-21). One is cleansed and prepared for His use who flees lust and pursues the Lord (22). Paul follows the admonition in verse 23 by describing the characteristics of a good workman and vessel of honor.
Social media has got to be one of the devil’s greatest tools for tempting God’s people to violate the principle of 2 Timothy 2:23. One has got to wonder how many confidently asserted statements and vehement arguments are properly categorized as “foolish” and “ignorant.” We’ve all seen the disputes and strife they generate! Brethren speak ugly to one another and venomously about the object of their scorn. I cannot remember how many times I heard the late Wendell Winkler say, “You can be right and be wrong. If you’re not kind, you’re the wrong kind.” Do we ever stop to consider that we can neutralize our effectiveness by un-researched, unstudied, and uninformed statements nevertheless brashly and confidently stated?
And what about those who “innocently” start these bash-fests? As a young boy, I remember having a football card of Conrad Dobler. For some reason, I thought he was so cool…until I saw him in a commercial. He’s sitting between two fans and he pits one against the other until the whole crowd is in an uproar. The commercial ends with him grinning as he leaves the middle of the fracas. Was he innocent in all this? Of course not! That’s the point of using Conrad Dobler, the meanest man in football, in the commercial.
Remember what Paul tells the Romans. “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (14:19). The next social media mudslinging you chance upon, ask yourself this. Am I looking for peace or longing to take a virtual punch? Am I actively seeking to edify, or am I looking to don my orange demolition jacket? Hear the inspired words. “Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes!” When you come upon one, just keep moving. You are not likely to help the cause of Christ, but you may hurt it!