BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing” (Phil 2:14 NLT).
The scripture above talks about two vices to stay away from: complaining and arguing. Some are guilty of both while some people’s lives are plagued by either of them. However, either of them is a worrisome problem not to talk of the two. However, this message is concerned about just one – arguing.
A dictionary defines argument as, among others, “A disagreement in which different views are expressed, often angrily.”
I consider arguing in relationships as a bad form of communication. You need to avoid arguments in your relationships. You should be able to communicate and even disagree without expressing your differing views often ANGRILY. The Bible warns us against anger – unrighteous anger. Righteous anger is anger against evil, against wickedness or against sin, which God Himself expresses many times in the Bible. The Bible allows righteous anger, provided you don’t sin. The Bible says, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ps 4:4; Eph 4:26 NKJV).
Another word for anger is provocation. The Bible says love is not provoked (1 Cor 13:5). Avoid ANGRY exchange of your views with others; make your point calmly and be open to others’ opinions.
Except your profession or career is rooted in arguments, like the legal practice, arguments is mostly unprofitable! Even at that, lawyers have a code of practice they cannot go beyond.
You may win an argument but lose a relationship! Get rid of whatever generates argument in your relationships. It may mean that you keep quiet and let the other person have his way – it doesn’t reduce you. It takes more than one person to sustain an argument. Let there be peace now, even if you’ll revisit the matter later.
The problem with argument or arguing, as evident in the definition I’ve adopted, is the anger that is generated in the course of advancing a position. That shows the difference between arguing and discussing. Discussing is “a talk between two or more people about a subject, usually to exchange ideas or reach a conclusion, or talk of this kind.”
Arguing generates and increases tension. Arguing puts you in a bad mood. Hardly does arguing solve a problem or helps to find a common ground. In fact, it may result in the parties involved going their different ways or abandoning the matter because reason is not allowed to prevail. Everybody decides to maintain uneasy calm. Even if there is a concession, there may not be sincerity – it’s just a façade – which is not good for healthy relationships. Whereas it’s good to discuss and arrive at a conclusion, arguing as a way of reaching a conclusion in relationships is not healthy. Stay away from arguing.
Arguing between the herdsmen of Lot and Abraham
In Genesis 13, Abraham knew the danger arguing could cause the relationship between him and his nephew, Lot, and he quickly moved into action to stop it. He proposed to Lot that the two of them should part ways even when the argument was just between their herdsmen and not directly between them (Gen 13:5-9).
In verse 8, Abraham told Lot, “This arguing between our herdsmen has got to stop.” Who have you been arguing with? Is it your spouse, your boss, your friend, your neigbour, etc? This arguing has got to stop. It’s not healthy for your relationship. You must avoid arguing in your communication. If you CANNOT communicate without arguing, then something is wrong with you and with that relationship.
The Israelites arguing with Moses over lack of water
Moses named the place where he struck the rock and water gushed out for the Israelites to drink Massah (the place of testing) and Meribah (the place of arguing) — because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the LORD. They said, “Is the LORD going to take care of us or not?” (Ex 17:1-7) The Israelites didn’t have to create a scene by arguing with Moses over lack of water, which he wasn’t even responsible for. Arguing was not what solved the problem; God did.
The second time a similar incident happened over lack of water, Moses, provoked by the negative attitude of the Israelites, acted wrongly. Instead of speaking to the rock, as instructed by God, he spoke harshly to the people and beat the rock twice. Because of this, God banned him and Aaron from entering the Promised Land (Num 20:9-13).
Some teachers of religious law arguing with Jesus’ disciples
In Mark 9:14-29, the Bible records the argument between the disciples of Jesus and some teachers of religious law when a boy possessed by an evil spirit was brought by the father to His disciples to cast out the spirit from him. Instead of casting out the demon from the boy, the disciples were arguing with those the father of the boy knew were not going to be helpful to him. That was why he didn’t go to them in the first instance! Unfortunately, the disciples were also proving unhelpful to him. They allowed themselves to be drawn into the unprofitable venture of arguing. I don’t know what the argument was about.
The argument was still on when Jesus got there. Jesus asked them, “What is all this arguing about?” (Verse 16 NLT) He didn’t join them in any argument. He rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith and after making enquiries from the father about the boy’s condition, cast out the demon from him. No argument! (Verses 25-27)
The disciples of Jesus arguing among themselves
The Bible also records the argument of the disciples of Jesus among themselves about who was the greatest. Jesus heard them arguing, while they were in transit, but didn’t interfere while the argument lasted. Much later, after they had gotten to their destination, Jesus asked them what they were disputing among themselves on the road, obviously not because he didn’t know. In his characteristic manner, he wanted to use this to teach them a truth. “But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest” (Mark 9:34 NLT).
They didn’t tell him the topic of their argument but he addressed it without anyone telling him. He knew their bone of contention before he asked them. Probably they were ashamed to give him a reply. Their argument was unnecessary.
Arguing doesn’t engender love, understanding and cooperation; it promotes strife and division. In the Kingdom of God, you don’t struggle to become the greatest. Greatness isn’t attained by posturing or grandstanding. All that is needed is to keep on serving, faithfully using the gifts and abilities God has given you for the benefit of others. That’s what is important. It’s not striving to be the first. Contrary to all human wisdom, Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else” (Mark 9:35 NLT). Don’t waste your time engaging in useless argument. It’s always better to sit down and discuss mutually in love than to engage in argument seeking to advance your position and impose your ideas on another or others.
Have you read the argument between Job and Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, his three friends he called miserable comforters? Did it resolve anything? No. His friends compounded his problem. Even the fourth friend, Elihu, did not help Job out of his condition – he may just be considered to be relatively better than the other three. Until God spoke to Job, he was still confused. It was useless arguing with them because each person wanted to prove himself right. The argument was not useful to Job. It didn’t change his condition.
Don’t argue with God
Some people don’t just waste their time arguing with other human beings, they also argue with God. Rom 10:21 said, “But regarding Israel, God said, ‘All day long I opened my arms to them, but they kept disobeying me and arguing with me’” (NLT). Arguing with God is not a wise response; prompt obedience to God is.
Job did not only argue with his friends; he also argued with God. That was ridiculous! “Then Job answered and said, even today is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments” (Job 23:1-4 KJV). What wisdom does a man possess that he should be arguing with God? If he doesn’t understand something, he can ask God questions but not to be arguing with God. Eccl 6:10 says, “Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny” (NLT).
When God began to talk to Job later in Job 38-41, Job acknowledged his ignorance (Job 42:2-6).
Why People Engage in Arguments
As I’ve said, arguing is different from discussing. In discussion, one can share opposing or divergent views without arguing. Here are some reasons people argue:
Ego problem or pride. Some people have ego problem; they are full of themselves. They feel their ego is bruised if there is a contrary opinion to the one they hold and don’t want to yield to a superior opinion. Because of ego problem they become defensive instead of saying, “I think you’re right” or “That suggestion you’ve made is better than what I said before. Let’s go with your suggestion.” Insecure people always want to have their way. Prov 13:10 says, “Pride leads to arguments; those who take advice are wise” (NLT).
2. Selfishness. This is related to the first problem. Selfish people always want to dominate communication. Everything is about them. They don’t consider other people’s opinions or viewpoints. They always want communication to go their way. It’s useless arguing with someone who has this character defect. If you’re in a position to help him by pointing this to him when there is no argument at all, it will be better.
3. Ignorance. Some people argue blindly as a result of ignorance. John 6:52 says, “Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they asked” (NLT). They were arguing out of ignorance because Jesus said “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live” (verse 51). Their ignorance of those arguing was very evident because Jesus wasn’t talking about eating his physical flesh. He didn’t mean to turn them to cannibals!
After all that Job had said and the lengthy response by the LORD, He asked him, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” (Job 40:2 NLT) Of course, Job had no answer because his argument was based on ignorance. He admitted that he had uttered what he didn’t understand, things too wonderful for him, which he didn’t know (Job 42:4). He took back everything he had said and sat in dust and ashes to show his repentance (verse 6).
Until some people eventually discover their ignorance, probably paying dearly for it, they may continue to argue that they’re correct.
4. Foolishness. 1 Tim 1:6-7 says, “But some teachers have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time arguing and talking foolishness. They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they seem so confident” (NLT). Some people engage in arguments out of foolishness. They always believe that they know it all, so they don’t open themselves to wisdom from others. But nobody knows it all. It’s useless arguing with Know-it-alls! If you have a relationship with them, know the limit of your communication. You can’t win an argument against a fool! You’ll be wasting your time. “When arguing with fools, don’t answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are. When arguing with fools, be sure to answer their foolish arguments, or they will become wise in their own estimation” (Prov 26:4-5 NLT).
5. Lack of love. Where there is love, arguing is discouraged once it’s rearing its ugly head. This is because you’re always sensitive to the interest of others. You’re not putting yourself, but the other person, first. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Rom 12:10 NKJV). Phil 4:5 says, “Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do” (NLT).
Arguing doesn’t encourage harmonious relationship because it amplifies and reinforces differences thereby promoting division. Paul specifically calls for a stoppage to arguing in 1 Cor 1:10, stating, “I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (NLT).
Hazards of Arguing
From what I’ve said to so, the following can be summarized as the consequences of arguing:
1.Arguing discourages sincere discussion. Everybody is trying to advance his own position without showing understanding for others’ views. It is about self and not about common good.
2. Arguing complicates issues instead of helping to resolve them amicably or come to common conclusion. If everybody believes that his position or opinion is the best, then nobody is ready to concede to another; there won’t be resolution.
3. Arguing is a disincentive for peaceful living or harmony. It causes division or worsens it
4. Arguing destroys relationships as it does not promote love and understanding. It is hard to sustain a relationship with an argumentative person, who worships his own ideas or views and always wants to dominate a conversation. Such a selfish attitude destroys relationships.
5. Arguing endangers health. The tension and stress involved in arguing is not good for anyone’s health. The health hazards of anger are serious including increased blood pressure, which has caused some to die suddenly or suffer heart attacks or stroke.
Conclusion: Back to where we started: “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing” (Phil 2:14 NLT). The hazards I have listed in the concluding part of this message should be enough disincentive for you to keep on arguing with people. Don’t argue with people; and don’t let anyone lure you into arguing. Don’t forget, it takes more than one person to sustain an argument. Keep quiet and enjoy your peace; let the argumentative person win! Ultimately, truth will overcome. Might may have its way, but in the end, right will prevail. In communicating with people discuss, don’t argue.
If you’re not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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