It’s Foolish, So Don’t Do It!
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. -Titus 3:8-11
As a child growing up in a small town neighborhood, there were common parental admonitions children heard. One was, “don’t play in the street, you’ll get hurt.” Much of these shouted orders had, at their essence, “It’s Foolish. Don’t Do It.” Parents were hoping we would learn – not just the specifics being shouted – but that care must be applied and vigilance used, to avoid foolhardy ventures into danger.
In similar fashion, the apostle Paul sought to warn Timothy and Titus of foolhardy endeavors. He hopes these young preachers will not waste their time, ruin their influence, hurt others and provoke God’s wrath by getting involved in fights which contain no spiritual value. (Some fights are necessary and valuable: see 2 Tim. 4:7).
The positive is: devote yourself to good works, and lead others into good endeavors. “These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”
There was a common pastime among the Jewish rabbis. They would take up some matter of the law, often a fine detail, and argue over the interpretation of that detail at extraordinary length. Yet, from this lengthy and often heated debate, no value was realized. There was no good, practical outcome.
Once this controversy was initiated, it would inevitably spin off into other questions and branch off into unrelated matters. Those engaged in the uproar enjoyed the uproar more than any possible spiritual substance. They just liked to fuss.
It remains a pastime and hobby of certain men today. They love to take sides, press their points to absurdity, accuse their opponents of all manner of previous wrong-doing, construct a chain of fellowship and perpetuate constantly shifting networks of team members. They love controversy, but without spiritual substance. They just like to fuss.
Paul said to Timothy and Titus – essentially what parents used to say in the old neighborhoods: “Don’t play around in the street. You’ll get hurt.”
“As far a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
Three strikes and you are out! If someone sets out to tear up a church, that can’t be tolerated. People with this purpose are “warped and sinful,” and “self-condemned.” Throw them out (not violiently), by making it known they are not one of the faithful and not welcomed, so long as they “play in the street.”
By Warren E.
From Expository Files 22.12; December 2015