Handle with Care: Why Arguing Won’t Change Hearts

Social media has become a battlefield of words – a symptom indicative of the widening chasm in our nation and world. People are sullen, alienated and angry. In my attempt to relate truth to fellow believing women, I am sometimes targeted.

But I refuse to argue with unbelievers and weak believers. It’s not only futile but also counterproductive. Sometimes I frustrate fellow believers who believe I can hold my own in an argument, and sometimes I frustrate those who are ready to pick a fight with me. I will not concede ground, but I won’t engage.

Fellow believers angrily insist people need to hear the truth. In an effort to remain consistent, I won’t argue that. They desperately do. But it’s how you deliver the truth that will determine how they receive it.

A Better Approach

I concede that sometimes – maybe even often – I want to bop people over the head with Scripture. (Okay, so I’m now picturing Little Bunny Foo Foo with a Bible.) But verbal bludgeoning will not win the war for peoples’ souls. Gentleness and respect will.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by hm to do his will. 

– 2 Timothy 2:23-26

Political correctness, tolerance, secularism and a lack of solid biblical teaching have joined forces to delude multitudes. People’s tickling ears want to hear what fits most with a secular or theologically liberal agenda. And it’s maddening.

But never lose sight of our goal: helping people “come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil.” And let’s remember that the flesh – sin’s domain – is the inspiration for our argumentative spirits, not God.

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? – James 4:1

We are to “have nothing to do” with arguments, which are “foolish” and “ignorant.” This requires, according to the text, kindness, an ability to teach, patience and gentleness. Whether they repent is between them and God.

What’s Arguing and What’s Not

But restraining ourselves from arguing doesn’t mean we don’t address sin. Au contraire. If we don’t, who will? How will the darkness flee if it’s not exposed to the light? But we must do so privately (Matthew 18:15) and gently, again with a goal of repentance.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. – Galatians 6:1

We also need Christians to speak out publicly in a Christ-honoring manner about the way to salvation (faith in Christ alone) and our desperate need for repentance. I personally think we need more people like Franklin Graham –  anointed, fearless and yet affable leaders who boldly go where few dare trod.

It Comes Down to One Word

Grace. That is what so many of us received as unbelievers and immature believers and what so few of us are willing to extend to others. We forget how warped we were in our thinking, how “principled” we were in defense of our views.

I remember how, as a baby Christian, I resented and rebelled against someone’s strong-arm attempt to help me commit all my ways to God. Why should others be any different? And if God has so radically transformed my life, what’s to say He can’t radically transform others’ lives without my beating them on the head? Wouldn’t I be better off demonstrating the love, compassion and forbearance Jesus demonstrated, or do I have the audacity to say my way is better than His?

We can win the war much more effectively by choosing the correct weapons. My recommendation: Stock up on burning coals.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.– 2 Corinthians 10:4

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