A Healthy Interest in Controversies
Is there such a thing as a healthy interest in controversies? We all have friends who seek out conflict while others avoid it like the plague. Their porage is clearly too hot and cold, but what does it look like for conflict to feel just right? Christians choose to live by a standard that is often in conflict with popular culture. Controversies are, therefore, a characteristic to a life committed to Christ. But is it possible to be involved in too much conflict?
How should we compose ourselves in the face of opposition?
Timothy, a young pastor in the church, is given a strong warning from an experienced leader. Paul warns him of a path that leads to, "envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people." The tributaries of such warning is an unhealthy interest in controversies as characterized by false teaching. You should read about the whole thing in 1 Timothy 6. Paul presents a compelling argument against those who steal personal gain through deception. He characterizes them as being conceited and ignorant. He also describes them as thriving on quarrels about words. Such men and women do not argue from a position of humility but, rather, from a seat of arrogance and self-promotion. Their good news is not about the gospel, but their own law of salvation.
Have you ever profited from deceiving others?
This is a clear warning against false teachers, but it is also a warning to ourselves. We must not fall into the same trap of vein conceit. Paul continues to instruct the young pastor toward a better way:
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
And so a teaching about false teachers becomes a teaching about ourselves. The Bible describes God's propensity to provide for our needs. We must avoid the compulsion to provide for ourselves, to quarrel toward self-sufficiency. We see a relationship unfolding between insecurity, false teaching, and divisiveness. Which is to say that unhealthy controversies are evidence of false teaching that is motivated by our own greed and insecurities. Be content with what God gives you and allow him to help filter out your interest in what is and what should be.