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Treasure Digest: Doubtful Disputations

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Treasure Digest

Doubtful Disputations

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Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 13). Human nature loves to be right. It feels great to be right. We love to revel in how special we are because we're right about something. As zealous Christians, we can get pretty excited about doctrinal issues, but we must not wreak havoc like a bull in a china shop. There is a right way to handle the different rates at which we learn God's truth and the differences of opinions we may have because of it.

One of the seven things God hates is the sowing of discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19). The truth is not to be used as a weapon to sow discord. How we handle the truth is a test of spiritual character. It can be a real trial of our patience and faith in God when we have knowledge that we want to share, but the person we want to tell isn't ready for it, or it isn't God's time for it to be widely known.

If an item of truth is genuine and needed, we must trust that God will lead His children to understand. We must not injure our brothers in the Church by stirring up controversy. We who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves (Romans 15:1). We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We are to handle the Word of God with meekness and fear (Isaiah 66:2), and we are to treat our brothers with gentleness and patience (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Behaving in a spiritually mature manner is far more important than savoring the satisfaction of having our doctrinal opinions validated.

When King Saul acted rashly to hold on to his following, Samuel rebuked him and told him that the real issue was obeying the voice of God (1 Samuel 15:22). When there are dozens of scriptures where God has spoken on a matter, there isn't much doubt about what the truth of the matter really is. But when we need to cite scholarly opinions to establish an interpretation, then that is an indication that the matter could fall under the "doubtful disputations" category. Often if an issue is murky enough for brothers in the Church to hold different opinions, the real issue is whether we will obey what God has said about how to approach disputable matters.

In Romans 14, Paul takes the congregation to task for mishandling disputes about vegetarianism and fasting days. He sums up the matter with this advice: "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way" (Romans 14:13).

It's more important to be patient and gentle—and cause no harm to our brethren—than it is to win the argument at the expense of driving someone else out of the Church. Paul gave this advice to Timothy: "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient" (2 Timothy 2:24). Impatience and the desire to glory in being right are just human nature rearing its ugly head.

The real victory we should be striving for is not to win the argument, but to be victorious over our own human nature (Proverbs 16:32). Every matter will be settled in God's time and His way—and it takes more faith and more spiritual character to trust God and deal with differences patiently.