Summary: One of the saddest things that can happen in a congregation is when people begin to fight each other instead working together. Instead of being focused on our mission, we’re too busy bickering and fighting with each other.
Today we finish our series through Paul’s Letter to Titus. I pray that these messages have blessed you but I also pray that they have challenged you – challenged you to grow in your walk with Christ and challenged our church to grow in depth and number.
Turn in your Bibles to Titus 3:9-15. Paul’s final written words to Titus urge the body of Christ to maintain harmony.
In music, harmony is defined as: “The sound resulting from the simultaneous sounding of two or more tones consonant (compatible) with each other.” The opposite of harmony in music is dissonance. Dissonance is defined as: ““A simultaneous sounding of tones that produces a
feeling of tension or unrest and a feeling that further resolution is needed.” Dissonant chords sound like the notes are clashing with each other.
Let me demonstrate. (Play C major chord). All the notes are working together to make a sweet and enjoyable sound. However, listen to when I play these notes together (C, Db, D). It’s most unpleasant to hear this sound. It’s unsettling.
Dissonance in the church is unsettling to the mission of the church. One of the saddest things that can happen in a congregation is when people begin to fight each other instead working together. Instead of being focused on our mission, we’re too busy bickering and fighting with each other.
Jesus said in Lk. 11:17 – “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” Paul wrote in Gal. 5:15 – If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
On the night before Jesus was crucified, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. What did he pray that his followers would possess so that the world would truly know the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Was it the ability to perform miracles? Was it powerful preaching? Was it great music? Was it money to finance the church’s activities? No! Jesus prayed for harmony for all of his followers Jn. 17:21 – “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Jesus wanted his followers to get along so that their testimony would be believable. It’s a farce for the church to tell the world we have the solution to strife – “come experience the
peace that passes understanding” – when we’re fighting among ourselves.
So how do we do that? How do we maintain harmony in the local church? Let’s look at the instruction Paul gives to Titus here in this passage.
Titus 3:9-15 – But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there. 13 Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. 14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives. 15 Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.
Avoid Controversy if Possible
Listen to vs. 9 of Titus 3 again: But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. We should avoid controversy if possible. I say “if possible” because not all controversy is foolish.
For instance, someone in the church says, “I believe that all belief systems are equally valid. Any religion will get you to heaven.” That statement is not only untrue, it’s also dangerous. It can lead someone onto the wrong path. Jesus said in Jn. 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There are some issues that are critical and need to be discussed.
Paul is not talking about doctrinal issues. He’s talking about things that really don’t matter one way or another. Many of the Jewish rabbis would spend their time arguing with each other over minute details on how to observe the Mosaic Law.
For example, they would argue over what it meant to observe the Day of Rest, the Sabbath. Basically, their arguments sounded something like this: Can I eat a sandwich with two pieces of bread and a pickle, or would that be too much work to make?