Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
I. Contentiousness II Tim. 2:14 “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (I Tim. 2:14). This is part of the charge that the Apostle Paul gave to the young minister Timothy.
Paul was nearing the end of his life, and these instructions were critical to Timothy as a pastor. He was encouraged to stand strong for the gospel, and to stop people from arguing over words that would simply end in disagreement and hard feelings. This is a danger that has afflicted the church for many generations, leading to the development of numerous denominations and weakened fellowship.
In the first epistle written to Timothy, Paul warned that some people had “swerved” (I Tim. 1:6), meaning that they had missed the target. But their swerving had also caused them to hit another target, that of “vain jangling.”
This is described by one commentator (Barnes) as, “Vain talk, empty declamation, discourses without sense.
The word here used does not mean contention or strife, but that kind of discourse which is not founded in good sense. They were discourses on their pretended distinctions in the law; on their traditions and ceremonies; on their useless genealogies, and on the fabulous statements which they had appended to the law of Moses.”
Pretending to know much, they simply revealed that they knew nothing, and their speeches were just noise, or “vain jangling.”
The unfortunate result of this is the “subverting of the hearers.” This means that it leads to confusion and the loss of good judgment. It is indeed a rare occasion of church strife that does not negatively affect someone, and result in the weakening of faith.
There are numbers of people not attending church today who simply got discouraged or hurt during a church problem. Too much talk and not enough love and forgiveness will always drive weak souls away and destroy their faith. I must do as Paul insisted and charge us that we strive not and argue over words, heritages, opinions, or anything that brings no profit, but rather brings subversion (confusion, lack of good judgment) and destroyed faith.