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November 19

Avoid foolish controversies.
Titus 3:9

By the pen of Charles Spurgeon:

Our days are few and are much better spent doing good than in disputing matters that are at best of little importance. So-called men of learning years ago did the world a great dis service by their incessant debating of subjects of no practical importance, and our church today greatly suffers from such petty warring over obscure ideas and unimportant issues. And once everything has been said that can be said, neither side is any wiser. This type of discussion no more promotes knowledge than it does love; thus, it is foolish to sow our time in its barren field. Arguing issues where Scripture is silent, discussing mysteries that belong to God alone, debating prophecies of doubtful interpretation, and disputing mere modes of observing the sacraments are all foolish, and the truly wise will avoid them. Our concern should not be to ask or to answer foolish questions but to avoid them altogether. If we would obey Paul’s teaching in the preceding verse to our text to “be careful to devote [ourselves] to doing what is good” (Titus 3:8), we will find ourselves much too busy with profitable activities to waste our time with unworthy and needless contentions.

There are, however, some questions that are the exact opposite of foolishness, topics that should not be avoided but must be faced honestly and directly. They include such questions as: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I being “transformed by the renewing of [my] mind” (Rom. 12:2)? Am I walking “according to the Spirit” rather than “the sinful nature” (Rom. 8:4)? Am I “grow[ing] in . . . grace” (2 Peter 3:18)? Does my conversation exalt the doctrine of God my Savior? Am I looking forward to “the coming of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15), and am I continually watching as a servant who is expecting his Master? Is there more I can do for Jesus?

Questions such as these demand our urgent attention and, if we are currently involved in petty issues, let us turn our thoughts to things much more profitable. May we be peacemakers and endeavor to lead others to “avoid foolish controversies” not only by our thinking but also by our example.

By the pen of Jim Reimann:

As believers we must choose our battles wisely and, as we have seen, “avoid foolish controversies.” Paul, who wrote our text verse, also encourages Christians not to “[pass] judgment on disputable matters” (Rom. 14:1).

Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, known as “the pastoral epistles,” were focused, instead, on the importance of sound doctrine. What Christians should be prepared to debate are the foundational truths, or the fundamentals, of our faith. Here is what Paul told these two young ministers: “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:3). “An overseer . . . must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:7, 9). “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).

Although God has kept some things secret, He nevertheless holds His children accountable to the sound doctrine He has revealed. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).

Morning by Morning: The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon
Copyright © by James G. Reimann

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