Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.Proverbs 10:12 (NLT)
“The first person to lose their cool loses the debate.” No truer words were spoken by my professor in college. I was in a class that taught debate and argumentation, in anticipation of becoming a lawyer some day. We were given topics to debate. The topics were hot button issues of the day: pornography, homosexuality, drug use, etc. In the class, we were able to have civilized debates. In other words, we could argue a point without losing our temper, raising our voices, or calling our opponents names. Though we were arguing opposing sides of an issue, the teams were able to keep it together and maintain good friendships with one another as a result. However, there is a difference between a debate, or argument, and a quarrel.
Though an argument can be civilized, a quarrel ratchets up the nastiness by making things a bit more personal. Quarrels end up with raised voices, shouting at one another. Quarrels often times involve personal verbal attacks against one party or the other. Quarrels sometimes devolve into physical fights. Why? Because quarrels involve pride, sin, and hatred. It’s not about sharing ideas or a hope of understanding each other. Instead, it’s about making sure that I am right, no matter what. And, if I need to get nasty and call someone some names, or talk smack about their friends and family, I will. Quarrels are commonplace now. Just take a look at any social media site. There, in all their glory, you will see countless articles, blogs, status updates, or pictures that have their roots in hatred.
Unfortunately, the church (the people, not the building) can often behave in the same way. We disagree with someone, or a lot of someones, and we can’t get them to admit our view is superior. So, we begin calling them names. We call them heretics, the Illuminati, Jesuits, or other insults. We try to discredit their ministry or malign their personal integrity. Make no mistake, these quarrels are born out of hatred, not love. Yet, Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)
Love looks out for other’s well-being. It doesn’t hate. It doesn’t seek to destroy. It doesn’t desire suffering or ill-will. Love seeks to lift others up. Love seeks to point us to Jesus. Love allows grace to permeate our arguments. Love binds us together. Choose love.