Content With Contention?
If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them (v.10).
With its uncomfortable booths and tiled floors, the restaurant reflected the chill of the winter air. Having recently made the decision to take in foster children, my family sat waiting to meet a 7-year-old girl who needed a home. She was accustomed to transient relationships and began calling my parents “Mom” and “Dad” at that first trial meeting. Filled with great optimism, we believed we could make her world different—that she might be grateful and understand the nuances of healthy family relationships. We quickly learned her sense of normal was our definition of chaos.
Paul admonishes believers to be satisfied in whatever circumstances they endure (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:7), but Scripture makes a distinction between godly and ungodly contentment. Because of their own brokenness, some people are not happy until they’ve stirred up strife in the relationships around them. Uncertain about others’ love for them, they attempt to find security in controlling the environment and creating factions.
When we come to Christ, however, He redefines our understanding of normal and healthy. No longer dependent on ourselves, we find that He calls us to trust in His protection rather than our own. But we may not recognize how deeply our defense mechanisms run, and some individuals simply choose not to walk in Jesus’ promise to make all things new (2 Corinthians 2:17; Revelation 21:5). In Titus 3, Paul shows us how to handle relational strife: First, we respond with grace through a right understanding of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross (vv.4-7); we teach, model, and warn if necessary (vv.8-10); finally, if no change in behavior occurs, we separate (vv.10-11).
Reflecting Jesus’ love doesn’t mean partnering with others’ dysfunction. Instead, we must present to others the light of His truth (1 John 1:5).
Read Galatians 5:19 to understand more about the connection between our relational decisions and our choice to walk by the Spirit.
What relationships in your life are filled with strife? How do your efforts in the relationships compare with what Scripture says to do?