Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (NIV)
It seems sometimes that we have to contend with church members who either figure anything goes when it comes to Christian belief, or who reckon there is only one way to view the faith and that is their way. Paul is urging Timothy to stick up for the faith. There are those who will twist it. They want to dilute it so as to make it acceptable to a wider audience. Historically, this has never attracted a wider audience. Who wants secular thinking with a religious overlay? True, the faith needs to be applied and expressed differently in different situations. Yet the essence remains.
Sadly, there are those who are so intent on defending the essentials that they not only confuse essentials with secondary issues, but they get very argumentative. Meeting aggressive guardians of orthodoxy can be a sobering experience. Does a gracious God of love actually need such ungracious guardians? Perhaps this is why Paul urges Timothy to be kind and gentle with those who challenge the faith. After all, the point is not to score points. The aim is not to win an argument.
We are certainly not to let false teaching damage followers of Jesus. Especially if that teaching comes from an apparently Christian source. But the antidote to false teaching is truth spoken in love, not truth used as a bludgeon to silence those who disagree with us. And who is to say our particular grasp of truth contains all the truth? Beware in seeking to defend the biblical faith that we are not merely safeguarding our cherished prejudices.