Gong Show! Dealing With Disputes, and How Abrasiveness Is Not a Fruit of the Spirit!

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You’re peacefully laying on the couch with a good book, all bundled up by the fireplace.  Peeking over the book you can see out the window that it’s snowing outside in the dark.  You just ate your favorite dinner about forty minutes ago, and everyone in the house is in bed for the night.  You’re all alone, and you’re as cozy as cozy can get.  You lazily bring a cup of hot chocolate to your lips when all of a sudden...

Imagine being in such a wonderful situation and then having someone slam one of those old Chinese gongs right behind your head!
The sound of the gong pulsates through your body shaking you like a cat at a dog park!  Scalding yourself in the process, you spill the chocolate all over yourself, the book, and your blankets.  The kids run into the room screaming, lights go on in every house on the street, dogs start howling, and a car slides off the road and into your driveway!  What a wonderful thing!

Guess what?  We do the same thing in conversations with people!  It’s called sounding brass, and it’s when we conduct ourselves without charity.  When I say “we” I’m including myself in this, because this is an area that I’ve struggled with from time to time.  We are all going to have disagreements and disputes from time to time, whether they be in the normal every day things or in Bible discussions.  What do the Scriptures say about how we should conduct ourselves?  We, who are so eager to stand up for truth and righteousness, ought to know what the Bible says about exactly how to it! 
There are several passages on this in the Bible, some are outright commands and some are examples given in Scripture.  I believe you’ll be surprised to see what the Bible has to say.

1. Contend for the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints!

Jude 1:3, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
We love this one!  To contend means to compete, engage, argue, and fight!  God expects us to hold the truth of the word of God as something precious and not let it fall in the streets.  According to Psalm 138:2 God holds His word above His very name!  What a precious thing we have in the Bible, we are commanded to fight for the truth.

2.  Humor Is Not a Sin!

It blows me away, but for some reason in the minds of some believers we can make jokes about everything in the world, but in the middle of a serious biblical conversation its taboo to make a joke to lighten the mood.  I believe the shortest distance between two people is laughter, and there's nothing wrong with taking a look at the situation you're in from an outside perspective and getting a laugh out of it.  Sarcasm is also an effective tool for making a point at times, but somehow it's become a sin.  Let's look at a few examples in the Bible where individuals use humor and sarcasm:
God the Father:
Is. 41:21-23, “Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.
22) Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.
23) Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.
God challenges Israel to bring forth their strong reasons to Him, and then He says something that would strike you a little odd if you really thought about it.  “…yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.”  The “we” in that passage is a reference to the Godhead.  God is basically telling Israel to go ahead and do good or bad, so He can sit back and be worried about it.  There’s no way He was serious when He said that!  Here we see God the Father being sarcastic in what He says to a nation of people that need to get right.

Jesus Christ:
Luke 13:31-32, “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
32) And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
33) Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
Do you see the sarcasm in this verse?  Jesus is telling the Pharisees that He’s not worried about what Herod is going to do to Him, then He calls Herod a fox, and lastly He makes the sarcastic comment that a prophet can’t "perish out of Jerusalem".  He follows that up with the next verse lamenting the very fact that Jerusalem has made a habit of killing and stoning the prophets that God sends to it!  This is the very same Jesus who never sinned – what He said here out of a frustrated and broken heart was not wrong.
This same sarcastic Jesus was a name caller as well, glossing His foes with such wonderful titles as “hypocrites”, “generation of vipers”, “serpents”, “blind guides”, and “children of Hell” (Matthew 23).
Lastly, our Lord exaggerated things sometimes to make a point.  Who ever heard of having a piece of wood the size of a railroad tie stuck in your eye (Matt. 7:3) or swallowing a camel whole (Matt. 23:24)?  Christ was exaggerating things to make a point.  Jesus Christ has a lot more personality than most people realize, it’s okay to demonstrate a little personality when you’re dealing with people, and sarcasm and name-calling isn’t always wrong – that or Jesus was wrong!

I Kings 18:26-27, “And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27) And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.”
Elijah is making fun of the enemies of the Lord.  Apparently, when He lit the altar up, Jehovah God didn’t have too much of a problem with Elijah’s apparent lack of charity .  In fact, it looks as though God approved of Elijah further rubbing in the victory to the point that He lit up the altar after Elijah had dumped twelve barrels of water on it!

II Chronicles 18:12-16, “And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good.
13) And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.
14) And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And he said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.
15) And the king said to him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the LORD?
16) Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.”
To be honest with you, the sarcasm that Micaiah uses here blows me away!  Right after he gets done telling a servant (who was trying to get him to say nice things) that he’ll say whatever God tells him to say, he out and out lies to the king!  I can't help but think that Micaiah knew the king well enough to know that the king wouldn’t believe him, so you can say he was being sarcastic and not technically lying – but he sure does walk the line doesn’t he? 

3. Being Judgmental Isn’t As Bad As We Think It Is.

One the fundamental, bedrock truths taught in modern day Christianity is that the most important thing to being a Christians is making sure that you’re never accused of being judgmental.  Christians today flee from the judgmental card faster than politicians run away from the race card. This is done without even knowing what the Bible says about the subject!
Matthew 7:1-5, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2) For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3) And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4) Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5) Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”
All Jesus is saying here is that if you’re going to judge someone make sure you’re not doing the same thing that you’re judging them about.  Nowhere in Scripture does it prohibit Christians from judging each other in every situation.  In fact, I Cor. 2:15 says, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things…” and we are told to “…judge righteous judgment” in John 7:24.
If you are going to judge someone, be careful.  There’s a difference between judging righteously and presumptuously jumping to conclusions and making an idiot out of yourself.  Remember, only God really knows the intent of someone’s heart and you’re much better off judging a person’s actions.  Lastly, it's always best to do this in an attempt to help the other person, not condemn.

Gal. 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted"

4.  If You Live Your Life Without Charity Everything You Do Is Useless.

I Cor. 13:1-3, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
I’m not the first to think of those first three points; I’ve seen them used over and over again to excuse bad behavior.  Don’t think for a second that Jesus was speaking with charity when He called those Pharisees snakes, vipers, and children of Hell.  At the same time though, don’t think for a second that Jesus ever lacked charity!
What’s the difference?  The difference is in HAVING charity and SPEAKING with charity.  It is impossible to always speak with charity, but you should always strive to have charity within you.  I’ve heard people say that charity is “love in action” – and I supposed that definition is okay, but the Bible clearly lays out exactly what it is. So what is charity, and how are we supposed to have it in of us?
I Cor. 13:4-7, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
BEFORE you do or say anything related to the first three points, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I have longsuffering?
2. Am I kind?
3. Do I avoid envying?
4. Do I avoid vaunting myself above others?
5. Do I do my best to stay humble?
6. Do I act appropriate to the situation?
7. Am I interested in the needs of others?
8. Do I show self-control?
9. Do I avoid the carnal desire to plot or rejoice in the demise of others?
10. Do I avoid the avoid rejoicing in iniquity?
11. Do I rejoice in what is true?
12. Do I obey the Scriptural command to bear one another’s burdens?
13. Do I have faith?
14. Do I anticipate God working?
15. Do I endure hardness?

If you answered yes to all fifteen of those questions, then you got charity!  God expects us to have charity in our lives, how we operate, and how we relate to others.  Yes, there is a time for humor, name calling, sarcasm, and even being judgmental, but all that MUST be kept in check by living a charitable life.

5. Don’t Get Rebuke-itis.

I Tim. 5:1, “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;”
Some of the brethren live to rebuke anyone who crosses them, like a fat kid lives to eat cake.  While there is a time for rebuke (II Tim. 4:2), the primary model and commandment laid down in Scripture for personal conversations is not to rebuke, but to intreat.  Rebuking is secondary, and should only be done after intreating the person peacefully.  Truth be told, most rebuking should be done by the pastor of your local church and done over the pulpit!

6. Do The Best You Can to Get Along.

Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
God expects us to do everything we can to get along with everyone.  That’s really all there is to it.  We’re not to have a hair trigger mechanism for anger; we’re to have a hair trigger mechanism for forgiveness and forebearance.  To forbear is to restrain one’s self.
Col. 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
Romans 12:9-10, 14, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10) Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
14) Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

7. Always Strive to Operate with Sound Speech.

Titus 2:8, "Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."

We should always strive to maintain a good testimony in how we conduct ourselves.  Many times if we ask ourselves the fifteen questions of charity we'll wind up saying something in a way that would be more pleasing to the Lord.  The principle of operating with sound speech means saying something in a way in which you do not give the other person leverage or opportunity to besmearch you.  The truth of the word of God is much of the time offensive enough to the carnal nature, the messanger himself doesn't need to be offensive.

I hope by this time you’re beginning to the see that balance that is in the word of God.  If all you did was read the first three points of this article, you might be heading out the door to lop off some heads.  If all you did was read the last four points you might be leaning towards the idea that God expects us to sit by and never take a stand for anything.  God is a real person with a real personality, and He doesn’t expect us to be devoid of personality ourselves.  All seven of these points are valid biblical points and demonstrate the importance of having balance in our lives and how we handle disputes.
Prov. 11:1, “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.”


JTR said...

LOL, I always love your articles! And the great graphics you find! :) Good article, and something hubby and I were discussing tonight. You don't see a lot of not only edification, but also admonishment between Christians at church. We came to the conclusion that it's mostly for fear of being though of as "holier than thou". With a daughter thet is straying, I find myself discouraged at the lack of ppl who are stepping in and trying to reach her. They seem almost afraid of crossing boundries, and seem to just ignore the problem. There are other Christian ladies who can say things to her that she might recieve from them, that she would not hear from me. There has to be a way to do it tho, and your article covers some of what to do and not to do. I am working on looking for ways to fellowship more at church - not just go to listen to the preacher and sing songs, etc...but to edify and even admonish other Christians...we need to be more of a New Testament church...and not just talk to others about "what's going on in politics", or "how the weather is" when we come together in our local bodies.

Rick Schworer said...

I'm glad you liked it brother!