“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” (2 Timothy 2:14 ESV)
Church is a mess. Why? Because church is a group of people redeemed by grace and in the process of growing in the grace and knowledge or our savior Jesus Christ. We love one another, encourage one another, serve one another, and sometimes hurt one another. We get distracted by our busy lives and often allow the temporary things of this world get in the way of making an eternal impact through meaningful gospel advance. We must have a focus on the gospel to have a focus on our mission.
Losing sight of mission is a real challenge all of us face. Are we raising kids with their eternal souls in mind? Do we often forget their spiritual needs and focus on our current inconvenience caused by their poor behavior? Do we neglect to reach out to our neighbors because we are too busy about our business rather than our Father’s business? Are we willing to have that necessary difficult conversation with a friend even if it means they may end the friendship if they don’t like what they hear? Are we so concerned about being right theologically that we cannot have compassion and unity with those who disagree with us? All of these issues can be resolved by focusing on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul told Timothy to remind believers of these things. The phrase, these things, refers to the trustworthy saying that begins in verse 8 and is articulated through verse 13. This is sound advice. We begin to get focused when we remember the facts of the gospel and consider how Christ truly died for us purchasing us with his blood. We focus when we understand how to participate in the same kind of selfless abandon in the service of our God. To be reminded of those things is part of the picture. The other part is committing ourselves not to quarrel over words.The word translated as quarrel over words means to split hairs. How do we avoid splitting hairs while engaging in the difficult task of transforming gospel ministry? We stop the rumor mill, gossip, slander, and grumbling when you do not agree with decisions that are made. Do not cast judgment before you seek to understand a person’s position. Do not assume you have complete understanding of what they mean without first seeking clarification. All of these things can cause harmful and unnecessary divisions in the local church body. Focus on what is good for the hearers. Focus on strengthening the church. So what do we do to focus on the gospel? Remember you are a recipient of grace. As such we should be gracious to others and seek to collaborate in the ministry of reconciliation. Remember the sacrifices of those who have gone before us and honor their work by loving the church you have inherited. Seek and practice those things which lead to the building up of those around you. Remember there is another generation coming after you. Church is a mess. Don’t stir the pot. Instead, submit to the ministry of the Holy Spirit as we are transformed by the power of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ.