2 Timothy 2
23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. 25They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. 26Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. (2 Timothy 2:23-26, NLT)
The Daily DAVEotional
If there was ever a passage that should be required for Christians to read before engaging with others on social media, this might be it.
Obviously, Paul did not have social media in mind when he wrote these verses, but there was definitely an issue that was creating some controversy and division among members of the church because Paul writes these same words (“avoid godless and foolish discussions”) four times in his two letters to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:7; 6:20 and 2 Timothy 2:16, 23).
The controversial issue that Paul was addressing was likely a heretical teaching circulating locally that was causing needless arguing and debate among believers.
The key verse, in my opinion, is verse 24, which states that, “The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people.”
If you’ve spent any amount of time on social media over this last year, you know that kindness, gentleness, civility and friendliness are not words often used to describe the typical interactions people are having. Indeed, quarreling seems to be the norm.
In short, people on social media are often not kind. In fact, many people, including Christians, are the exact opposite of kind. What I mean by this is that it seems that many people engage in social media in a way that appears to be purposefully confrontational.
We are living in extremely difficult and polarizing times. The events of the past year, including Covid lockdowns, mask mandates, economic uncertainty, racial division, protests and riots, as well as the build-up and aftermath of our national election, have all contributed to a growing sense of anger and unrest.
Nobody wants to be overlooked or feel marginalized. We want our voices to be heard and our opinions to matter.
Social media is the digital town square for the 21st century. Therefore, in order to use our voice, we can feel a strong urge to engage in discussions that are happening on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media forums.
But what happens when we engage in those forums and people disagree with us? Or worse yet, what happens when others call us names or marginalize us or even ridicule us because of our beliefs?
The natural reaction is to respond in kind. We want to be right and we want to “prove our point.” But Paul is urging us to be patient with others and kind in our interactions.
Admittedly, this is difficult to do in some cases. But we represent Christ to those around us. Therefore, we have a duty as believers to act in a way that Christ would react if he were posting for us.
In what ways have you engaged in “foolish and ignorant arguments” in your interactions with others?
What topics or hot buttons cause you the most difficulty in being patient with difficult people?
What steps can you take to be more kind and gentle towards others in your communication?