Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they
produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to
everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in
the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth (2
I have witnessed arguments over doctrine. I have watched
as what began as a moment of sharing turned into debates of spiritual matters in which
neither person really won. I have seen within such times, people losing control, losing
their tempers and losing respect for another. A matter that should be approached with love
and understanding becomes a reason to belittle the other for their viewpoints--acting as
if they must be the devil himself to think some of what they think.
We are such creatures of the moment. We so frequently fail to see beyond our immediate
circumstance long enough to see the big picture. And by doing so, we fail to look at
ourselves and others as the work in progress that we are.
None of us has all the answers. No one is perfect or maintains perfect doctrine, for we
are still being perfected. Where we disagree, there is disunity. But rather than agreeing
to disagree, we can agree that we don't agree which means that one or both of us are
However, though we be wrong in doctrine it is important to remember that we can maintain a
rightness of heart. As mentioned, we are being perfected. This is not an enlightenment
that provides us with all the answers at the point we first come to Christ. Instead, it is
a process that continues as we abide in Christ. My doctrine might not line up with yours,
and yours may not line up with mine, and it would be a miracle if we agreed on everything.
No matter how we line up, our doctrine will fall short of the whole of Christ's
doctrine--on that we can all agree.
With this knowledge of our imperfections we are very understanding with ourselves. We can
tell ourselves that we're not perfect but that God is still working on us and this helps
us to live with our faulty thinking until God can change it. But do we fail to extend
others the same courtesy? Do we fail to be understanding with them and give them the same
tolerance for imperfections as we give ourselves?
As previously said, "though we be wrong in doctrine it is important to remember that
we can maintain a rightness of heart." If someone had all the right doctrine yet
failed to seek God, what good would it be? God is not as concerned with how much truth you
possess as He is with whether or not you are seeking Him. The rightness of heart is not
maintained by doctrine, but by continuing to seek God, to draw near to and abide in Him.
If we truly seek God He will bring our doctrine into proper alignment with His. And that
will not necessarily line up with what we once thought it should be, or what others think
it should be or sometimes with what a church thinks it should be.
This brings with it freedom and responsibility. We are free from the law that states that
all of us must have the same doctrines. We are all at different levels of Christian
maturity and as such we must be allowed to grow to the likeness of Christ, not be
brow-beaten into it. Yet we are responsible to remain in Christ, listening attentively to
our teachers and weighing what they say with the Spirit, so that we will continue to grow
toward maturity in Christ. We are not allowed to plead the fifth, or say "We agree to
disagree" or "I just don't see it that way," and leave it at that.
Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but
his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it
be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself (John 7:16-17).