Do you ever see someone’s posts on social media and just kind of freak out in your mind? You start doing mental gymnastics thinking that “they can’t say that” or “that’s not nice” or “that’s not true?” You really have this intense desire to call them out on their racism or lack of tolerance or just plain “wrong” ideas/ideals.
Or maybe they even say stuff to you or in front of you that just gets you going. I have to admit, I am occasionally proud of my snarky, sarcastic comments. Many times, I can’t think of the correct response and later I am left thinking, “I should have said. . .” If I am witty enough to speak in the moment, which doesn’t happen often, I get caught up in how clever or funny I am and not in how my words have adversely affected someone’s heart.
The only problem is that 2 Timothy 2:23-26 says this, “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
He’s not saying here “don’t have a snarky rebuttal.” Paul’s not telling us to not say something funny and sarcastic that’s really gonna show them. He says, “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies.” He knows that these controversies breed quarrels, and we are not to be a part of that. Not only should we have nothing to do with it, but we are to “be kind to everyone.” Not just those who don’t bait me on Facebook. Not just those who think and act and look like me. Not just those worthy of my kindness, but everyone. Really. Everyone. If we must correct, it says we correct with gentleness. I’ve never seen a gentle correction on Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. That probably needs to happen one on one. In private. Away from the spotlight. When you’re not already upset about the other’s behavior.
Have you ever successfully argued on Facebook? Or Instagram? Or Twitter? Have your opponents “seen the light” and changed their ways because of something so incredibly amazing that you said? I’m pretty sure the answer is no. It’s the equivalent of a “bomb drop.” You know, when someone says something shocking and then turns around and walks away. That’s so easy to do online.
I have committed to no online arguments. It’s important to my life, my job, and most importantly my faith. My witness. How others see me is how others relate to Jesus. How can I say that I know him if I act like we’ve never met? According to this passage in 2 Timothy, my kindness could lead God to grant someone repentance that leads to a knowledge of the truth. God leads them to repentance, not me. God leads them to Truth, not me. I’m a vessel, sure. But believe me, even my witty self isn’t changing anyone’s mind in online polemics.
Next time you feel the urge to “show them,” I encourage you to read 2 Timothy again. I encourage you to stop, just for a second, and think about what you really want to say. Remember that we should “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies.” Maybe your waiting, your kindness, will lead others to repentance.