The Verse That Left Me Speechless Today

Have you ever heard the adage that “you may be the only Bible some people get to read?”

How are we doing with that, do you suppose?

I wonder what these non-Bible readers would say is in the Bible according to what they see in the lives of American Christians.

Many would say that there must be verses about love and about the existence of an all-powerful God and His Son, Jesus.

That’s good.

They might also think there are verses that prohibit sex outside of marriage (mostly pertaining to Christians born before 1985), illegal drugs of all kinds (unless prescribed or to make your “before testimony” more compelling), hard alcohol (with allowances for wine and beer – especially home brewed), some forms of dancing (ballroom and square are in, grinding and disco are out), swearing (with exceptions for heavy traffic situations) and smoking (except occasional cigars).

It might be interesting to take an informal poll of people who know you and ask them what they think your life says about what is in the Bible. I’m not that brave.

I would be willing to bet, however, that no one would guess that this verse is in the Bible by watching those of us who call ourselves Christians:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” 2 Timothy 2:24

We Christians talk so much about being ready for battle, spiritual warfare, Armageddon and the armor of God that I suppose it’s reasonable for some of us to get the wrong impression that we must live our lives with fists clenched and arguments at the ready.

But Paul tells us that the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome.

Come, again?

I thought quarreling was a spiritual gift.

This verse came up in my Bible study time today and hit me right between the eyes. I started looking up other references to the word quarrelsome or quarrel. It’s discussed quite often in scripture and it’s never looked upon with favor.

There are FIVE proverbs about how unpleasant it is to live with a quarrelsome wife. FIVE! (Proverbs 19:13, 21:9, 21:19, 25:24 and 27:15). My favorite is that a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof!

There are numerous New Testament prohibitions against quarreling. Numerous.

Do you think anyone who hasn’t read the Bible could tell from the community of believers that our most Holy Scriptures command us not to quarrel?

Me, neither.

So, since some of you are starting to ask – what do you mean by quarrel?, I looked up the definition (not in Greek, though, just plain old English, so if you really want to continue to quarrel, you have some wiggle room, I suppose.)

quar•rel 1 (kwôr l, kw r -)
intr.v.
1. To engage in a quarrel; dispute angrily. See Synonyms at argue.
2. To disagree; differ: I quarrel with your conclusions.
3. To find fault; complain.

And, just for fun, here are some synonyms:

disagree, fight, argue, row, clash, dispute, scrap (informal), differ, fall out (informal), brawl, squabble, spar, wrangle, bicker, be at odds, lock horns, cross swords, fight like cat and dog, go at it hammer and tongs, altercate disagree agree, get on or along (with)quarrel with something or someone argue with, oppose, dispute, knock (informal), fault, condemn, be against, complain about, criticize, object to, disapprove of, decry, take issue with, rebut, take exception to, find fault with, carp about, pick holes in

Whew. That leaves a lot of us without much to say on most days.

So, I want to think about this.

I mean, we live in the age of the quick comeback, witty repartee, the great debate, the stand-your-ground-and-don’t- back-down brotherhood of believers. We know how to assert ourselves, defend our faith, take back our culture, and speak the truth in love, right? I mean, if we sometimes dip our toes across the line into quarreling – well, it’s not as if we’re committing adultery or any of the really big sins, right?

Except that James says this: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26

So, I have to think about this. I am a woman of words (which is another way of saying I am a writer but also another way of saying I can be a smart mouth with a quick tongue and that I always have an opinion on everything.)

But, the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome.

So, it seems clear – not from our lives, perhaps, but from God’s word, that we are not to be a quarrelsome people.

I may need to take a vow of silence for 2011 – what are you going to do?

Okay, just for fun, and because I know so many of you are just like me, always looking for the loophole, I had to look up the Greek for the 2 Timothy verse. It’s the verb “machomai” and it means the following:

to fight
a) of armed combatants, or those who engage in a hand to hand struggle
b) of those who engage in a war of words, to quarrel, wrangle, dispute
c) of those who contend at law for property and privileges

Yeah, it’s the same thing as in English. Now, what are we going to do?

Any ideas? I’m speechless.

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3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Karin says:

    Don’t you know that in everyone’s life are a few people who are always right? We feel it is our calling to set them straight – though we don’t raise our voices and we are polite we need to bring our point across. I’m still learning to simply shut up – but it’s quite a challenge! Other folks just don’t ‘get our goat’ and we can have profitable discussions and learn from one another.

  2. barb Scharg says:

    My whole life was changed by a passage in the Screwtape letters about those who practice sarcasm – I think he calls it flippancy. The main point was that it excites no love between those who practice it. I used to be one of the best at sarcasm but God has replaced it with penetrating questions and encouraging words. I’m not totally sure it relates, but the quick comeback is often sarcasm more than being quarrelsome!

  3. Amy Brock says:

    As I was reading your post I was thinking about a verse that I was remembering vaguely about “giving an answer”. Here’s the whole scripture: 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

    Interesting points – give an an answer TO THOSE WHO ASK, GIVE A REASON FOR THE HOPE YOU HAVE, and WITH GENTLENESS AND RESPECT…and even more as you read on – GOOD BEHAVIOR. Hm…quite the contrast to quarreling! Thanks, Lori for your insightful blog posts!