Read 2 Timothy 2:23-26
23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. (NLT)
Christians who hold firmly to orthodox biblical truth can sometimes be very hard to get on with. Such is their passion for correct belief that they are constantly on the lookout for error. They can spot a false doctrine at fifty paces and have no hesitation in engaging in a rousing spell of heresy hunting. It is generally true to say that the theological liberals don’t quarrel about doctrine because it might not matter so much to them. Whereas theological conservatives can become quarrelsome because for them the stakes are high.
Paul isn’t advocating a ‘let’s all just get on with one another and forget about that nasty doctrine’ approach. Elsewhere in this same letter he encourages Timothy to stand firm against error and reminds him that Scripture helps us discern truth from error. He is rather telling Timothy to fight his doctrinal battles the right way.
First, choose your battle. Don’t get bogged down in each and every interpretation of each and every word. This leads to an argumentative spirit. Second, be patient and kind with those who are on the wrong track. Realise that they are not the real enemy. The evil one is behind it all. Such gentleness can help them see truth. A harsh advocate of the truth may turn people off so they go astray. In passing, note that Paul tends to differentiate between those who have been led astray and those who are leading others astray. The former are to be handled with kid gloves. With the others, the gloves are off because the stakes are higher and the error is more wilful.
Let’s be famous not for our fighting but for our faith. A faith which certainly is to be defended, but defended with the weapons of love and kindness not harshness or condemnation. Truth and love are not opposites, but rather companions who need one another.