Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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2 Timothy 2:23 – Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (NIV)

I love debating with other people. It's part of my training as a pastor. At seminary or university, candidates for ministry are taught apologetics through class presentations or theological debates. The arguments usually spill over into the canteen area and can get very heated at times. I guess that when people are really passionate about their beliefs, confrontation and conflict are inevitable.

This happens quite a bit on social media sites, too. Ever since I joined several on the Internet, I've found myself sucked in to various theological tussles and inter-church conflicts, which have been quite severe at times. I wish that I could write that I have always kept to the high ground and not become embroiled in fiery free-for-alls. The truth is this: social media brings out the worst in me at times, and also among my Christian friends.

So, here's what I'm doing for Lent: I am going to seriously attempt to give up quarrelling on Internet sites. It's so easy to get involved in a fight or write a comment that does not help the situation. Now, this won't be simple for me either, because I can be quite self-righteous and highly opinionated at times. However, if the main purpose of Lent is to help me grow closer to Christ and value His sacrifice, then perhaps avoiding negative, belligerent comments and making positive posts instead may help me overcome this bad habit. Now, in order to enable me to be reminded of this commitment, I've taped today's verse to my laptop keyboard.

Perhaps you may feel led to do the same thing as well. It's better than giving up chocolate or candy …

Questions for personal reflection:

How do I interact with other people on social media sites? Do I honour Christ with my comments and posts?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in the gospels, You taught about the consequences of careless words and thoughtless deeds. You commanded us to love one another, including our enemies. Forgive us when our foolish pride and strident stupidity diminish our Christian witness before other people. Help us to use this sacred season of Lent as a special time to review what we write, post, and express in our emails and comments. In Your holy name, we humbly pray. Amen.

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About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen John.

    Thank you John for your timely devotional. Good luck with your plan to interact positively. We all could put such advice to good use.

    I understand your devotional completely, since I have repented for lent on this topic (debating on social media) I will turn and go the other way. Have a blessed week.

    John: I like this devotional so much that I shared it on my FB. We indeed need to watch what we say on there. Thanks for your honesty.

    You have joined the club! All of us are under constant attack by minions of the devil. Thank God we can always turn to him for recovery and continuing help.

    Thank you for your candid sharing. I appreciate the prayer. While my issues are not on social media I believe this is speaking to me. One of my disciplines for Lent is to speak less.

    One can certainly tell you are a pastor by the way you express yourself. Not all pastors have that gift. Thank you for thoughts expressed — over time your devotionals have been right on.

    Hello John:
    You wrote, “I am going to seriously attempt to give up quarrelling on Internet sites.” I have a better suggestion: Give up the social media sites altogether. I had to, after I realized how much valuable time I was spending away from the work God has entrusted to me.

    When I come to the computer each morning to delight in this devotion site, I try to figure out who has authored that day’s offering as I slowly scroll down.
    As a writer shares about a personal walk with God, it becomes a personal conversation. Thus, I was convinced that this morning it would be a John Stuart entry.

    Oh, John, you have made a worthy commitment!
    I have a lady who sits at my table in dining room who can push my buttons. I have taken this situation to the Lord before going to eat each day; He has helped me to ‘get over it.’
    God bless you, too.

    Dear Rev. John:
    I always look forward to your devotionals on this web site. After considering yours of today, I have comments to make.
    I realize that there are people arguing you with extreme views. They don’t really put the humble Jesus first. They are after power. They are not really interested in finding ways to cooperate in solving issues.
    You are a godly man. I would not describe you as opinionated. You have well grounded Christian principles and reliable experience.
    These people don’t understand that they are not totally right. Discussion is sharing, which is of no interest to them. Recognize them as lacking Christlike attitudes.
    I pray for you to focus on the real gospel that will bring salvation from their unrecognized sins.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to give up chocolate?

    Thank you! It’s something I’ve been trying to get across to my Biker
    Church for months. I’m forwarding this to a couple of my guys. We have to be extra careful what WE post to give our edgy church validity and pique interest from a tough, mostly unchurched crowd.

    Hi John,
    I have done something similar, but in regard to my mother. We had seemed to argue about everything and I was growing very weary of it so I taped a reminder above my computer which I retreated to daily.
    I still struggle with not correcting my mother, but I am getting a lot better about not continuing the arguing.

    Good afternoon Rev. Stuart:
    Your message surprises me and I hope writing it has given you the will to change your fiery self-confidence and the use of, as you alluded to, negative, belligerent comments to those of another persuasion.
    I too have gone the circle and realize, how much time I wasted on doctrinal issues, when the main reason for Christ’s coming and for Lent is indeed to help us grow closer and even closer to the Lord we love and want to serve.
    So let us as mature adults forget the squabbling about what we think is right or wrong and set out eye on the goal.
    My advice to you, stay off the internet and spend more time on your knees – Christ never argued, nor did he force anyone to accept him or his message.
    Thank you for the many fine messages you present for our growth.

    Bless you, indeed, for your persistence in the Lord in honouring your friend’s wonderful life.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Powerful words of wisdom indeed. They spoke to me loudly and clearly. They reminded me of an old Scottish saying namely “Haud yer whisht!”. I will try to emulate them. Thanks for the message which I passed along to my sister.

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