Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23 (NIV)
Wherever my life journey has taken me, I have run into people who like to quarrel and quibble about the jots and tittles. Whether it’s theology they wish to argue or politics, I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting them. It usually begins with a seemingly innocent but direct question about what I believe on a particular theological or political subject. It’s a craps shoot. If I give the wrong answer (e.g. the answer that he doesn’t believe), then I catch a hint of sparkle in the person’s eyes as they pounce and attempt to initiate a verbal sparring session.
I don’t mind having conversations about theological or political topics with a person who is honestly inquisitive and a seeker of truth, even if we disagree. That’s not what I am describing. The quibbler is not seeking truth. He is arrogantly convinced of the absolute rightness of his position and wants to prove themselves and the argument right while rooting out what they believe to be the wrongness of others.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy he warns three times about useless quarrels and chatter. I imagine that languishing in chains in a Roman dungeon has a way of acutely refining your perspective on what truly matters. I have found that age has the same effect, admittedly in a much slower and less painful way. I don’t want to waste time and emotional energy in loveless verbal sparring sessions that have no eternal value. I prefer to invest in conversations that build up both of those who are engaged in the give and take, and which result in a greater measure of love and appreciation for one another.