“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” 2 Timothy 2:23
I confess to engaging in “foolish and stupid arguments”. Often. My lack of good judgement arises out of a mixture of pride in my own opinions and a lack of foresight about what will result from the argument.
Here’s a clear example of a “foolish” altercation I started recently: I didn’t approve of a decision made by a leader, so I went alone to confront her directly with my dissatisfaction, but when the argument became heated I stayed in the fray and kept repeating my discussion points.
I saw her eyes glaze over. I heard the frustration in her voice, but I didn’t back off. I felt my blood pressure rising and the heated flush creep up my neck and face, but I pushed on and argued (then yelled) which brought other leaders into the room to shush me. With calm hindsight, I was “foolish”, i.e. unwise and shortsighted.
I am fresh from a “stupid argument” too: My cat threw up on our family room step (wooden, not carpeted, thank the Lord). I had been first up to bed the night before and I thought our teen girls, or perhaps my husband, had seen the yuck and not cleaned it up – i.e. They had left it for me – the pet poop, pee and vomit patrol – a job expectation I especially resent.
Incensed, I wanted to keep the “evidence” on the step until our girls woke up so I would have a gross visual aid for my life lesson (“Clean it up when you see it. Do not leave it for Mom”).
I got “stupid” when my husband, disgusted by the vomit, insisted on washing it immediately. I blew a gasket because he was interfering with my educational moment. He was angry that I would even consider leaving such a unsanitary mess.
Wasn’t that a trivial argument?
In the Bible passage above, the Apostle Paul warned Timothy that these types of foolish and stupid arguments lead to quarreling – a serious type of dispute that is “marked by a temporary or permanent break in friendly relations” (www.dictionary.com).
I definitely don’t wish to break relationship with those I work with or live with. So how do I back off from this “I have to be right and prove it” attitude?
Before entering into a dispute – or continuing in one – I think I’ll ask myself, “Is this really important?” Or put another way, “Is it is trivial, senseless, pointless, not worthy of consideration?” (www.dictionary.com definition of “stupid”) “Is it unwise, short-sighted, trifling, and lacking in caution?” (www.dictionary.com definition of “foolish”)
To sum up, I am not advocating keeping perpetually silent and continually smiling no matter the interpersonal problem. However, I believe that disagreements that are kind and calm – and stay that way – work best to resolve conflicts.
“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” 2 Timothy 2: 24
Let’s keep in mind that in some cases, we just can’t make the other person calm down, hear us, understand us, or work with us, even when we are avoiding those pesky foolish or stupid arguments.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
I stopped short of foolishness today. Score one for me!