But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. -Titus 3:9-11 ESV
Your goal is to fight to stay together, to learn from and encourage each other in the faith of grace. Yet, so often, you get caught up in arguments about how to practice Christianity. We are all so different. The opportunities for contention are numerous.
The message of grace is abrasive. It’s all inclusive which means that it includes those who don’t follow the rules you follow. It includes the freedom dwellers and the legalists. Grace even includes those who don’t feel the need, those who want to be better than taking the free handout. It’s hard to watch people under that kind of slavery and fear (all law and little grace), but when you argue grace to the point of arguments, then it’s useless.
Try to get people to understand their freedom. Try to share the truth so that their fear and striving is eased. However, when you’re talking to someone who is stubborn in self-based understanding, even if they have scriptures to back them up, you’ll only end up discrediting yourself because they no longer hear you. There is a time to walk away.
Don’t be lured into useless arguments. Wasn’t there a time when you felt like you knew the Bible well enough to not have the capacity to learn anything that rocked your understanding? I’ve been there. God is perfectly capable of turning their world upside down so that all of the pretentiousness amounts to pocket debris on the ground. If you continue to argue, then their works-based salvation gains more resolve. You’re accomplishing the opposite of what you want to accomplish.
Scripture tells us not to argue about how to practice Christianity. There are people who will discredit and divide the body based on their own understanding of how to live. Anyone who refuses to find common ground and continues to argue is divisive. They assert their own way, trying to gain support from others in pushing another out. They’ll point out another’s failures in an attempt to blacken their name. Scripture calls them ‘warped and sinful’. After a couple of failed attempts to unite under grace instead of divide over practice, it’s time to walk away. Dividers condemn themselves. Continuing to fight with them implicates you because you’re feeding the division.
Treat others with respect because of the grace of Jesus. Don’t be diluted by arguments. People stand up for what they believe. They’ll argue to the death. If they believe something that refutes the free life and have counted you as ignorant because you don’t agree with them, then walk away. They don’t need you to condemn them. People can condemn themselves.
It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.
I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone. Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code. That gets you nowhere. Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off. –Titus 3:3-11