Living and Leading in Controversy

Living and Leading in Controversy

Pastor Jerry Gillis - May 28, 2023

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture points and the main idea of the message.
  2. How did this message strengthen and/or correct your previous ideas about living within controversy? Did you learn anything new about God or yourself this week?
  3. What controversies have you encountered over the past week? How did you handle/engage in these controversies?  Consider: discussions or arguments at work, on social media, on the news, within your family, etc. 
  4. Read Titus 3:9. What are some examples of discussions which fall into these categories listed in Titus 3:9? If we should avoid these things, what should we then pursue? 
  5. What should you do if someone in your church family wants to engage in “foolish arguments”? What should you do if a nonbeliever wants to engage in a “foolish argument”?  
  6. How should we handle people who create division? How can we handle controversies with gentleness? 


Action Step

Is there someone in your life who has stirred up controversary? Spend time praying for them and for your relationship. Be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to have a gentle, corrective conversation with this person. 


Mobilization Challenge

Did you commit to the Envelope Challenge? Spend time praying over who God is leading you to bless during the Time Challenge. For more information on the challenge and to share your stories about how God is growing you and using you, visit!


Sermon Transcript

Amen, so good to see you this morning. Thank you so much for being here on this weekend of worship. And I don't know if you have read much of Roman history. You may have not. This isn't a history lesson, but probably if you've read anything about the history of the Roman Empire, you have something, at least some knowledge of the gladiators, maybe you've seen movies.

Maybe that's why you know about it. And you didn't read, but you watched Russell Crowe. So the gladiators, it was very brutal. Back in that time. And it was a part of a whole system of games that they had in the Roman Empire. They called the Ludi. And it was, you know, theater and Gladiator oral games and all of that.

And it was kind of a mix of religion and politics all together. It was interesting. Sometimes the gladiators would represent a political tribe and they would fight against another gladiator from another political tribe. And most of the time it was to the death, but not every time. And the gladiator games were actually called Munis or Munira in in Latin, and it meant sacrifice to the dead.

So there was this mixture of religion that was involved in it as well. And they competed in what was called in Latin Arena, which is where we get our word arena. And that Latin word actually means absorbent sand because there was so much blood that was spilled in those arenas that this absorbent sand was put down so that it could actually absorb the blood.

Now, it was awful. I mean, those were rough times, brutal, barbaric kind of times. And the the kind of height of this gladiator games time was between the end of the first century B.C. and into the early third century A.D. Now, if you're doing the math in your head, kind of understanding the timeline, here's what you realize. You realize that the early church was a part of this time frame, right?

In the first century, second century, the early church would have been a part of this time frame. Remember, the church had been born in Jerusalem and then had spread out through the persecution all over the Roman Empire. And so now you've got believers that are saturating the Roman Empire all over the place. And you would think, looking back on something like the gladiator games, you would think to yourself, surely this is an outrage.

Like, surely nobody would go to these things. Surely you know for sure Christians wouldn't go to these things, except they did. And part of the instinct that they had there is they really liked the controversy that was built into it. They like the outrage that was generated as a result of it, and they liked the bloodlust that was a part of this.

They like to see people fight. It did something to energize like the masses of people and Christians were not immune to that. In fact, the reason that I know that Christians were going is because Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, actually wrote a treatise called de Spectaculars, and it basically in Latin simply meant the shows. And he had to teach the early church that this is not something that is good for your soul, that this is something that is actually really bad for your soul.

And it's not something that we as the people of Jesus, should actually be a part of. Because as you can imagine, looking back, you're thinking to yourself, This is barbaric, this is awful, This is, you know, terrible. How could people have gone to that? Well, my question is, is our culture that different now than it was then? Are those same instincts actually prevalent in the culture that we live in that that were there at that time?

I would suggest to you that I think the same instincts are there. We're a little bit more civilized. We may not put up with that level of brutality, although we're pushing the envelope in some ways. But those same instincts are still there. There's a social psychologist named Jonathan Haidt is who's at NYU, and he actually talked about the rise of social media platforms and how people go to war with words on social media platforms.

And sometimes people that are known go to war with other people that are known on the social media platform. And he says the choice that you have in terms of settling the dispute or the beef that people talk about. Right. The the really the only choice to be able to settle those things, Jonathan Haidt says, is coffee or the Colosseum.

He said coffee would mean that they would sit face to face and would say, Hey, I know this is happening, you know, and we don't agree on these things, but let's get together and let's talk this out and see where we land on some of these things. And the Colosseum is let's fight this out as a spectacle in front of everyone.

And let's, you know, let's just get it on and now, what do you think the culture wants? Let me just let me answer it for you. Not coffee. They want to see the spectacle. They want to see somebody taken a pound of flesh out of somebody else. That's what people want to do. They'll subscribe to do, They'll pay to do.

And by the way, young Social media influencers and YouTubers are actually leveraging this because they know that the instinct of the people in mass is really immature and really wants a pound of flesh and really wants to see a fight. So they actually collaborate together of basically drumming up a fight online between people of popular influence. So much so that everybody's once on this team, people are on this team, and then here's what they do.

They actually challenge each other to a fight on pay per view so that they can now be enriched by everyone's immaturity and stupidity. And they're playing the world. They're just playing people now. They manipulate these instincts because it pays them. You see, we live in a world that is outrage and controversy prevalent everywhere we are. It doesn't matter where we are TV, social media platforms or print.

It is trying to lure us into a fight, lure us into anger because they need our anger and our outrage to keep our eyeballs. That's what they need. And so that's part and parcel for how the culture that we live in operates. So here's the question How do we live in a culture like this? How do we live in a climate that is about outrage, anger and controversy and difficulty everywhere we turn?

How do we lead families in this environment? How do we lead friends in this environment? How do we lead organizations in this environment? How do we lead churches in this environment? Well, thank God that Paul has spoken to Timothy about this. We're going to be in second. Timothy, in just a moment. I thought out of it last week and I liked being in there so much, I just decided I was going to do it again.

Second, Timothy is the last of Paul's letters, and he's writing to Timothy to tell Timothy a bunch of different things about how Timothy is to minister and what he's supposed to do. And Timothy is certainly in emphasis at this time. So is what Paul is writing. And second, Timothy Chapter two is what he's writing to Timothy as a spiritual leader.

Absolutely. Is what he's writing about controversy, that surrounding like false teaching and Ephesus. Absolutely. But I want to make sure that we understand that I think we can have application in our own lives of how we live and how we lead in the middle of controversy and outrage, age and difficulty and chaos and craziness in the world that we find ourselves in.

Here's how Paul began in Second Timothy chapter two, verse 22. He said this to Timothy Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. That's how He begins, by saying, I want you to flee the evil desires of youth. Now you might be thinking when you hear that phrase flee the evil desires of youth that Paul is telling Timothy, Hey, stay away from sensual or sexual sin because you think that's the evil desires of youth.

Well, certainly Paul has addressed that before. He has talked about that before and would certainly encourage for, you know, sensual and sexual lust to be put aside and to handle ourselves admirably and and soberly and honorably. No question. But that's not primarily what he's talking to Timothy about here when he tells him to put aside youthful lust, youthful passions.

He's talking about putting aside immaturity. That's what he's talking about, generally speaking. He's talking about putting aside immaturity. And, you know, one of the kind of one of the evil desires of youth is one of the evil desires of immaturity is to provoke a fight. It just is. I've been a teenager before, and I have done that very thing.

I've done it with parents my own. I've done it with other people. Because for me, one of the evil desires of youth that I gave myself toward was being provoking and wanting to cause trouble and to stir the pot and to do all those kinds of things. Paul is talking to Timothy specifically about that, and he uses a phrase.

He says, I want you to flee the evil desires of youth, and I want you to pursue righteousness, love, faith and peace, right? He says, I want you to flee some things and I want you to pursue some things. This is a common formula when Paul teaches it, particularly when he talks to Timothy. If you looked back and first Timothy, chapter number six, you would hear this.

But you, man of God, flee from all this. He had talked about behaviors that were inconsistent with the life of God and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. So this flee and pursue formula that Paul uses is common in the way that he instructs Timothy. And I think we can learn from it as well. You see, when we're living in the middle of controversy and outrage everywhere we are, I mean, it doesn't take us long to do that.

We find it everywhere. What are we supposed to flee? Well, the first thing I would tell you is that we were to flee. Foolish and stupid arguments. Foolish and stupid arguments. Yes. The Bible uses those terms. Here's what it says in Second Timothy, Chapter two, verse 23. The next verse Paul says to Timothy, Don't have anything to do with here.

It is foolish and stupid arguments because you know, they produce quarrel. So Paul speaks, speaks very, very clearly when he talks about foolish and stupid arguments and he's saying the Timothy these are useless to get involved in. All they do is create useless heartache and useless divisions. And this is not good for the people of God. Paul's, by the way, already told Timothy this in the first letter Paul's making.

He's now reinforcing what he told Timothy in his first letter. Listen to what he said in Chapter one of his first letter, as I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God's work, which is by faith.

Then he says in chapter six of First Timothy, If anyone teaches otherwise and doesn't agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and a godly teaching, they are concede it and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction between people of corrupt mind.

You see, I'm thinking to myself, Paul is trying to make a specific point to Timothy, and he does it in the first letter. He's reinforcing it in the second letter. And unless you think Timothy is the only one he ever talks to about that, let me remind you that another one of Paul's proteges named Titus, who he had sent to Crete.

He told Titus the same thing. Listen to what he said to Titus. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law because these are unprofitable and useless. See what Paul is telling Timothy to flee and what we should be fleeing as well is foolish and stupid arguments. And Paul's actually making the case because in Ephesus, when he's talking to Timothy, he's talking about a number of different things.

You heard that word genealogies listed in there a few times. Basically, there were people that were fighting over the genealogies of people that were in the Bible. Right. And they were leaving out the fact that the genealogy of Jesus is pretty clear as the king and as the Messiah, that he's got it on both sides, whether that's Joseph's line or that's Mary's line, that he's both king and Messiah.

And that should be what we give ourselves to. Remembering that Jesus is the one who was promised, who has come from the line of David, and he's the one who is the king and the Messiah. And we're arguing over foolish genealogies of everybody else, you know. Paul's like, Would you just knock that stupid stuff off? We've got to get serious about what matters and the foolish and stupid arguments.

That's how Paul phrases it are things that we have to put to the side. Stop. Stop arguing over unsolvable things. I don't care how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. It really doesn't matter. Let's get back to thinking about what we need to think about. So in our day and age, what our where do we find foolish and stupid arguments?

Maybe the better question would be where don't we find stupid and foolish arguments? As soon as you pull out your handheld device and that facial ID opens it up, you are now in the land of foolish and stupid arguments, aren't you? It doesn't matter where you find yourself seemingly on the Internet, on social media. Anyone can comment about anything.

So any article that's written, people can comment not just about the article, they can comment about other commenters and how stupid they are, or they can post about anything they like. They can create their own YouTube channel, they can create their own podcast. Everybody can do anything that they want. And by the way, I'm fine with the freedom and ability to be able to do all of those things.

And in fact, some of them are profitable. Some of them are useful. Some of them are good. And some of them are actually playing you and me because they are trying to manipulate us into outrage so that we will be subscribers and we will always hang onto cliffhangers and we will keep coming back and paying our money and doing all of these things.

And they're playing on our immaturity. And for the people of Jesus, I can't speak for the culture. The culture is going to do with the culture is going to do. The people of Jesus should not act this way. We should avoid and silly, foolish and stupid argument. So if you find yourself in spaces on social media and in spaces online where it's just foolish and stupid argumentation, here's a word to you.

Get out. Just get out of those spaces. Why? Because all they will breed is pride, self-righteousness, and division. They will not be good for your soul. And they will not be good for your witness. And by the way, those spaces that are trying to manipulate, they're often a trap anyway, Jesus had to face this stuff. You're like, what?

Jesus faced Instagram. No Jesus Tok, No Jesus face the Pharisees and the Pharisees would always try to trap Jesus. In his words, It was a trap and they would do it over things that weren't of massive consequence in the Kingdom of God. They would do it over stuff like taxes. You remember this in Matthew 11, it says, or Matthew 22, excuse me.

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him. In his words, they sent their disciples to him along with the Herodian teacher. They said, We know that you're listen to him, butter him up. We know that you're a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by others because you pay no attention to who they are.

Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, You hypocrites. Why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax. And they brought him into Nereus and he asked them, Whose image is this and whose inscription?

Caesar's, they said. Then he said to them, So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God, what is God's? This is really remarkable because what happens here in this context is that they are trying to trap Jesus with a binary approach. And the binary is this Jesus. We want to hear your answer. Pay taxes or don't.

What do you say? We think you're so smart, you're such a great teacher. You are not swayed by anybody. You've got such integrity. We'd love to hear your answer. Pay taxes or not, because they knew if he answers pay taxes, they were going to be able to leverage that, to say, Hey, look, he's conspiring with the Roman Empire to oppress our people.

And if he says don't pay taxes, they would say to the Romans, hey, he's not paying taxes. He should be, you know, like they were trapping him either way. Right. And you know what Jesus does? He rejects the binary and he rejects their premise. You're trying to just get me to answer a question about pay taxes or not.

I'm going to actually answer a question about serve God or not. That's what I'm concerned about, because I'm not going to get involved in stupid and foolish arguments because you're trying to trap me. And that's how it goes. Oftentimes it's the binary trap. I remember during election seasons and it's great to talk about election seasons when it's not election season so that everybody's not like, If you dare speak truth to my candidate, I don't care who I speak truth to, I'm not running for anything.

I've been called by God to do what I do, and I'm not running for anything. So I don't care if it's a Republican and I speak truth to them. So what if it's a Democrat and I speak truth to their platform? So what? I'm not in bed with any political party. That's not my deal. I want Jesus and his kingdom to be manifest and to be seen in the world that we live in.

And I promise you, neither elephants nor donkeys are delivering that for anybody. So doesn't mean we shouldn't be involved. Right. But there's plenty of truth to speak. And sometimes people, they've taken the binary. It's all or nothing. It's all or nothing. And they bring you into this trap of this foolish argumentation. I used to hear this silliness said during the election, If you don't vote for so-and-so, it's a vote for so-and-so.

And I was like, No, it isn't. That's the dumbest math I've ever heard in my life. That's not true. To not vote for someone is is not to vote for someone else. Particularly if you didn't vote for someone else. That's not true. But we get drawn into foolish and speculative argumentation over these things. It's not unimportant who we vote for.

It's important. But we get drawn in because we get into the binaries. And then what happens is my candidate is here. Doesn't matter who it is, right? My candidate is here. And so I, I basically wash away all of their sins and I talk about all of their greatness. But this candidate, everything they do is from the pit of hell.

They are evil to the core. And this is all there is, right? Nothing redeemable. We can't act like that. That's unhealthy and untrue. We have to be very, very careful because we have to be able to be people ultimately of truth, because this is an unhelpful stance. We get into that binary, but I reject the premise as the people of Jesus, we can call out truth and lies in either direction because that's who we are and we may have to vote for the, you know, we're going to vote for imperfect people.

I don't know if anybody's figured that out yet. Whoever we vote for is going to be imperfect and don't get so riled up in the next election cycle that you go. And finally, the savior. The savior is the savior and that's Jesus. It's not anyone else. Not anybody else. Nobody else is going to save us. Nobody. It's Jesus alone, okay?

Thank God. When he returns, the government will be on his shoulders. Thank God. That said, we still honor those who are public officials and leading, and we pray for them because the word of God teaches us to do that. We don't speak in dehumanizing terms. We just have to realize we have to stay out of the trap of foolish and stupid arguments that make us in one camp or the other.

Either we're fully an advocate for this thing or we're an adversary completely and totally. No, you don't have to be that either. You reject the premise. That's what Jesus has done. So what are we to flee from? Foolish and stupid arguments stay out of those spaces. They're unhealthy and unhelpful and they're not good for our witness. But then he tells us what we're to pursue.

So what are we to pursue? Well, he tells us initially that what we're going to pursue is righteousness, faith, love and peace. But then he expands it a little bit and notice what he says in verse 24. He says in the Lord servant must not be quarrelsome, but must be kind to everyone able to teach, not resentful, and opponents must be gently instructed.

Did you catch that? There's a lot there. Now he's referring to the Lord's servant. He's referring to Timothy specifically. But that doesn't mean you get a pass. All of us are called servants of God at some point in the New Testament, Right? That's a that's a designation for us all. He's obviously talking to Timothy here in this text, but I think that we can all grab hold of this and learn what we should be pursuing when we live in a world of controversy.
Here's the first thing. Don't be quarrelsome. Don't be quarrelsome. This is what Paul tells Timothy very directly. That word quarrelsome means that you're looking for a fight. Let me put it in more. Let me put it in more culturally appropriate terms. Stop posting to provoke everyone. Maybe there's a good way to say it. Don't be quarrelsome. Stop using words to try and own everybody.

Has anyone ever seen the outcome of an online verbal fight as anyone ever seen at the end of that, somebody just going, You know what? I think? After the fifth time you called me a moronic idiot. I saw the light. You're right. I am a moronic idiot. It never happens. In fact, all it does is dig people in further.

It gives us a sense of self righteousness because we've. We've really stuck it to him right. And none of it is good for our soul. And it's not helping anyone at all. To not be quarrelsome is to actually be counter cultural as opposed to just flowing down the river of how everybody else acts. To not be quarrelsome is to show people a different king and a different kingdom at work in the world.

And that's what we want to be able to do. So he says, Don't be quarrelsome. Then he says this be kind to everyone. I mean, he literally says that do not be quarrelsome, but you must be kind to everyone sometime. Do you get aggravated that the Bible so specific because you're like, I would have been good with be kind but be kind to everyone how you do you know who everyone is, right?

That's kind of how we feel, isn't it? But Paul makes it really clear that we're to be kind to everyone. That word kind means that we are to handle controversy with gentleness. Now, do you know why I think that Paul chose this term? It wasn't just because it's this wonderful moral virtue. And it is. But I think he chose this term because it's reflective of the heart of Jesus.

Let me explain what I mean. This word kind, which means to to handle gently, to be gentle, right. Jesus, to my to my best knowledge. I could be wrong about this. Please don't send me an email and stick it to me. You know, if I'm wrong, it's possible. It's been it's happened before. To the best of my knowledge, Jesus only describes the nature of his own heart one time in the New Testament.

And it's in Matthew 11. Here's what it says. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. I think that's the only time in the New Testament where Jesus himself described the nature of his own heart. And he says that it is gentle and humble. So when Paul uses this phrase be kind to everyone, he's actually doing that so that we have a sense of the heart of Jesus.

So maybe we we ought to pay attention sometimes to those who are in opposition. And remember, he's talking to Timothy about people who are false teachers and he's telling he's saying still be kind to them. They variegated from the truth, but I want you to still be kind. Him being kind doesn't mean that there can never be confrontation.

Right. Because he's told Timothy, he's told Titus. He's we have to stand for the gospel, right? We have to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it doesn't mean you have to flex. It doesn't mean you have to be all involved in pride and self-righteousness. He's saying you still can act with gentleness and kindness in this role, because what happens is oftentimes we don't know what people have gone through.

Maybe people that don't see something the same way you do in the world. We don't know their story. We don't know what's behind it. We don't know what hurt they may have experienced. We just don't know. So what we do is we love them, we honor them. We think of them ahead of ourselves, which is what it means to be someone following after Jesus.

So we not we're not quarrelsome. We're being kind to everyone. And thirdly, it says, be able to teach. 

He's saying you still can act with gentleness and kindness in this role because what happens is oftentimes we don't know what people have gone through. Maybe people that don't see something the same way you do in the world. We don't know their story. We don't know what's behind it. We don't know what hurt they may have experienced. We just don't know.

So what we do is we love them, we honor them. We think of them ahead of ourselves, which is what it means to be someone following after Jesus. So we're not we're not quarrelsome. We're being kind to everyone. And thirdly, it says, be able to teach. We got to be able to teach. Now, is he talking is Paul talking to Timothy specifically here?

Yes. Are you saying. Well, Jerry, that's your application. You got to be your spiritual leader. You have to be ready to teach. Okay. Got it. True. And I hope that I do that with honor and I hope I do that with diligence. And I hope that I'm speaking the truth of Jesus into this body. But I need you to understand something.

If you're going to live in a world like we live in, you need to learn how to handle and apply the Word of God yourself. You have to know how to do that. It's not enough to just say, Well, you know what? You know, next week I'm going to come get a little bit of what Jerry says. And that's going to be good.

Hopefully it will be good. Hopefully it will be helpful. Hopefully it is useful, but that can't be stand alone. You've got to be able to handle the word yourself and be able to apply the word yourself and to care so deeply about what the Word of God says, that you're willing to humble yourself before the word and allow God to shape your life.

We've got to be able to teach. We've got to be able to know how to apply the scripture itself, right? There's so many different ways that we could do that. Sometimes when sin comes up in the life of a believer, maybe it's a friend of yours or whatever, and you're like, I don't really know what to do. I'm just going to act like it didn't happen or whatever.

I'm talking about sin. I'm not talking about you got your feathers ruffled. I'm not talking about your little offended by this or that. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about sin like sin that can really be costly and devastating and bad like sin. Well, what does the Bible say about that? Well, you can read in a bunch of different places, depending on the issue.

There's lots that the Bible says about that, right? Jesus says in Matthew seven, he says, Hey, it's okay if you're going to try and and get a speck out of your brothers, a speck of salt us out of your brothers, sisters, I just make sure that there's not a massive oak tree growing out of your face, right? That's a paraphrase, but it's close to that, right?

Jesus says, Don't don't let a log be coming out of you when you're going for a speck in your brother's sister's eye. In other words, you've got to be self-reflect If you've got to recognize that they're sinned, deal with in your own heart. Right. Or maybe there's a sin and you've witnessed it and it's bad and it's not good and it's not healthy.

And so what do you do as a brother or sister? Well, Jesus tells us in Matthew 18 that you go to that brother or sister and you go to them privately. You're not making a spectacle of them. You're not gossiping about them. You're going to them privately. I'm not talking about just a little a little thing here or there, you know, you guys, Scott, you're on the outs a little bit or you had a little disagreement.

I'm talking about sin like sin, right? You go to them privately. Why? Because the goal is not punishment. The goal is winning them back to the truth. That's the goal, Right? So you go to them privately and then what happens if that doesn't work? Well, you bring two or three witnesses, not two or three witnesses to say, hey, we watched them talk, but two or three witnesses to the sin, they actually saw the sin right.

And they're coming now and they're saying, hey, we've all seen this and we're pleading with you to come back to Jesus and to repent. And, you know, and if they do, thank God we want our brother or sister back. Thank God. Right. But if that's not okay, then you go to the leadership ultimately of the church, because this is apparently something that if this sin is unchecked and it continues moving forward, it could actually disqualify you from fellowship in the in the body.

That's what the Matthew 18 teaches us, right. Because if they don't respond in that context, they can be dismissed from the church. But that's not the only place that talks about that. That assumes a dynamic between brothers and sisters in Christ in the body of Christ. But there's other places like first Timothy five that talk about what if elders are spiritual leaders, sin.

Then Paul gives Timothy. Here's how you deal with that. There's other places where Paul actually dealt with Peter publicly because he was publicly sinning in being hip, showing hypocrisy in relationship to the gospel. And Paul rebuked Peter in front of everyone. There was no private meeting or anything like that because they were leaders and that was what they did.

Or First Corinthians five, where it talks about there was a public sin. In Corinth, there was a son sleeping with his mother in law. Yuck. And apparently Corinth was okay with it. They didn't do anything about it. And Paul's like, What? So Paul wrote a letter. He didn't go to him individually. It was public. It was known. And Paul wrote a letter and said, No, no, no.

Or Galatians six, where it says, Hey, you are spiritual. When you're dealing with sin in your brothers sisters life, be careful that you don't fall into temptation as well. Like we've got to know the word and we've got to be able to apply the word in circumstances that come up. Paul's teaching Timothy that what else he says. We've also can't be resentful.

We can't be resentful. Now, this phrase that that Paul uses here, when he says not resentful, that word resentful in the Greek language is a next seek a course. You're like, I don't care. Here's why it matters, because it's the only time that it's used in the entire New Testament is right here. And here's what it means. It means to patiently absorb or endure wrong.

To patiently endure or absorb wrong. You see, brothers and sisters, what we have to understand is that if we're going to walk the life of Jesus, we don't have to address every wrong that's aimed at us. We can absorb some of them. You know why? Because that's what our savior did at the cross. He absorbed our wrongs. He took upon himself at the cross our wrongs.

And he absorbed them. He drunk the wrath of God down to the dregs on our behalf. He didn't deserve that. But he did it for us. And you know what that means? That we'll have to do that some in our own lives. Sometimes we'll just have to absorb it. Sometimes you don't have to listen. You don't have to punch back every time.

You don't have to always hit back with words. You don't have to do it. Sometimes we can just absorb the wrong in love so that they will see a picture of the sacrificial love of Jesus at the cross. That's what we want people to see. Don't be resentful, because what happens is we become bitter people, right? Things happen in our world.

Things are controversial around us. People says somebody says something on social media about you that you're like, What? What? What? Right? And then it just goes goes crazy. Whatever. I mean, you can try and undo that. It's pretty impossible at some point, right? Some points, you just have to absorb it and then you can't be resentful. That's what he says.

You can't. You've just got to absorb it and patiently endure knowing that God knows God sees God will deal as he sees fit in his own time. That's up to God. But we can just leave it with him. We don't have to say anything at that point. We can just leave it in his hands. And we can't allow root of bitterness to to foster in our hearts.

I had a number of conversations in the first worship gathering after after this, and they were talking about family members and other stuff. And they were just like, Oh, boy. Like, this is a word. This is a word to my soul. Paul says it to him, Don't be resentful. He also says this gently instruct opponents. Gently instruct opponents.

In other words, there's no need for a war of words. There's no need to try and make a spectacle. He's saying, Timothy, when you're dealing with these people, this isn't supposed to be punitive. It's supposed to be restorative. We want to win them to the truth. That's what we want to do. We want to win them to the truth.

You see, that's Paul's aim in all of this when he's giving Timothy this instruction of how to deal with controversies, which Timothy's having to deal with a ton of them in Ephesus, he's doing it so that truth wins the day. That's what he wants. In fact, that's what he says. And versus 25 and 26. Opponents must be gently instructed in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, the antithesis of truth, who has taken them captive to do his will.

This is what Paul is aiming at. It's the truth. And certainly in this context, he's talking about fault teachers, that they would see the truth of the gospel and repent. But we also want to make that we are people who embrace the same thing because God wants to use us in the midst of a chaotic, crazy, controversial coliseum type of world that we live in, where everybody's looking for a pound of flesh and a fight to watch as a public spectacle.

Paul's saying these are not who the people of God are supposed to be. I would summarize our text this morning by simply saying the instruction is to flee the foolish and pursue godly maturity so that people can see truth of Jesus, flee the foolish and pursue godly maturity so that people can see the truth of Jesus. You see, brothers, sisters, we want to be witnesses, but too often we're just added noise.

I think in part it's why the culture that we live in doesn't respect our voice. As Christians, I think they don't respect our voice because we haven't stewarded our voice as we ought to. We have to comment on everything. We have to get involved in every foolish speculation. We have to get involved in every argument. And there's a point where it's like, man, where this a lot of sideways energy, instead of being about the work of God and showing people the beauty of Jesus in the midst of foolish and stupid controversies and arguments.

The truth is what we're after, the truth of the gospel certainly to be put on display. But here's the thing. What happens when we're in a scenario where we're in an organization or in a family scenario or whatever it may be, right? A relational scenario, it could be just about anything where we actually aren't real sure what the truth is in the scenario.

Right? That's a difficult thing. I'm not talking about the truth of the gospel. The truth of the gospel is clear as a bell, but sometimes, like in the world that we live in, we just don't feel like we trust what we're told in a lot of in a lot of ways, right? We've got this group of people telling us this happened and this group of people telling us this happened.

And we're just kind of like, what? Like what? What happened? Well, this is what happened. Well, this is what happened. Ha. It makes it challenging, right? Everybody's kind of building their own narratives to support their own agendas about saying, So what do you do? Well, when the truth is obvious, right? And there's times where the truth is obvious, then we just stand in it regardless of the repercussions.

We just have to do it. Oskar Schindler, who was in the Nazi Party, by the way, employed a bunch of Jews. But when he came to the obvious realization that the Nazi Party was exterminating Jews, he made a choice. He knew the truth, and he made a choice to hide and to save lots 1500 plus, I think, Jews that he was employing.

He didn't go into it for that purpose. He was trying to make money. He was leveraging them to make himself some money. But he ended up doing that, you know, by the way, he ended up going bankrupt because he was supporting them. He was financially supporting them and saving their lives. And he went bankrupt. And some of those same Jews after the war actually were now supporting him.

So that he could live when the truth is obvious. We just got to stand in it regardless of the repercussions. I mean, for people like me, when we are preachers of the gospel, the Bible's not unclear at all about the nature of God's divine design for human sexuality. Bible's not unclear about that. The Bible's not unclear about marriage and how God has instituted it and what it is.

The Bible's not unclear about life and the preciousness of it from the womb to the tomb. God's not unclear about where salvation comes from, that it's in Jesus and that there is no other name under heaven by which people can be saved. All roads do not lead to heaven. It is only through Christ. So that's not a flex.

That's just we just have to stand in it because it's just true and it's obvious and we have to just stand in it. That's regardless of the repercussions. That is such an awful thing to say. I can't believe you be so exclusive To say that Jesus is the only way Jesus said he was the only way. This isn't me saying that.

It's Jesus saying that I'm the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. That's Jesus words. But he said, whosoever will may come like repent and believe and come. God so loved the world that He gave his only son. It's not as exclusive as you think, but it is exclusive in that sense.

We just have to be able to stand in it regardless of the repercussions. Right. I'm going to put you in jail if you talk about, you know that men are men and women are women, and that's how God designed them. And you can't just choose to be anything that you want. You're going to jail. Then I'm going to jail.

You just stand in the truth and you and whatever the repercussions are, they are. So when the truth is obvious, that's what we do, right? But when the truth is veiled, we're not quite sure yet. What do we do? Well, we have to be wise. We have to be patient. We have to be measured, and we have to avoid immaturity.

You see what immaturity wants to do when we don't quite know what the truth may be is immaturity says, I want the truth to be what I want it to be, not what it is, but what I want it to be. I want the truth to be this. So I'm going to act in this way. That's not a good idea, because here's what happens.

Some of the ramifications of that immaturity are we become a false witness. We may start talking about things that we don't know about in ways like we know about them. By the way, don't talk about things you don't know about in ways like you know about them. It's a bad idea. And here's why. Because when you're wrong about those things, it's hurtful.

It's hurtful to the witness of the gospel, It's hurtful to the truth itself. These are bad things to do. Paul tells us that what also can happen in our immaturity if we're not careful, is that we can give kind of we can give in to the temptation in our culture of being first. We live in a hot take culture watch sports news, watch sports, talking heads.

It is hot Take City. And that's the goal, right? The goal is that they have this guy on this side and this guy on this side or this lady on this side and this lady on this side. And their job is to argue with one another, to stir up our emotions so that we're like, No, I'm with Shannon now.

I'm with, you know, whoever. Right. Like that. That's just how we get right. That's their job. That's what they're endeavoring to do. They want to keep our eyeballs there. But we've got to be careful not to be first trying to be first. Truth matters more than speed. So sometimes we want to be first because we want to show how.

We want to signal our virtue. Oh, no, no. I can't believe it. It's like you should have you should have waited a moment. Take a breath. Be a little more measured. Be patient. Let this begin to unfold. Let's see what happened. We see it all the time in politics. We see it all the time in news stories where they've got to run everything back.

They got to walk it all back right? This is what happened. And then it was like, nope, actually the opposite of that happened and they got to walk it back. This is not what we want to be a part of in the body of Christ, because we're undercutting our witness to the truth of the beauty of the Gospel.

And don't be self-righteous when you get something right. Sometimes you do a hot take and you get it right. That's what all the hot captains do on television. They'll give you a thousand hot takes. They're right about 4% of the time, but they don't care because when they're right, they get to talk about it. You see how right I am?

And everybody's like, you were right. You were totally right about that. You knew that that was going to happen right? Awesome. And they don't care about all the times they were wrong. But we should because we care about the truth. And so we don't just we don't treat the truth with negligence. We treat it with honor and respect.

And we don't become self-righteous if we happen to get it right. Right. Like they say, a clock, even a broken clock is right. Two times a day. In the south, they would say a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then, right? This is just how it goes. So we can't be self-righteous about that. But what happens when we don't know anything about the truth?

Like it's not just veiled, but like we're clueless? We have no idea. That's how I felt. Like March of 2020. We got this thing called COVID right in March of 2020. And everybody's like, I don't know. Literally, no one knew what was going on. Nobody from the top down, by the way, nobody knew. Now, we got a lot of people now in this day and age that look back on it and convince you that they knew everything about what was going on and they didn't.

None of us did. It was March of 2020. This was all brand new. So what do you do? And I've got pastors calling me on face time, and they're just like, What? And then my response was, What? And then we just stayed on the phone and just went, Wow. That was like our whole conversation. And then they're calling weeping.

I don't know what to do. I can't make a right decision if I make this decision and these people are going to fry me. And if I make this decision, these people are going to fry me. And I'm like, And if you make no decision, they're all doing Ferrari. Like, Yeah, so what do you do? You just have to you have to walk with humility, even in making decisions when you don't fully understand what what this is, even in the midst of controversy, you just have to walk with humility and where there's an absence of certainty.

Our job is to provide clarity. Clarity doesn't mean that we know actually what's going on. We didn't know here at the chapel, by the way. We didn't know and we said so. But what we did say is, here's what we're going to do for now and then we're going to see how that goes. We'll see what changes. And then we're going to just and then we're going to do something probably else different after that because we just have to walk with humility.

I tell you, I tell young pastors and leaders this all the time, know your lane and know your limits. That's what humility allows for us to do. Know our lane and know our limits. In other words, like here's here's what I know about myself. I'm a pastor of a church. I am not a public health expert. I'm not a political operative.

I'm not law enforcement. I'm not a judge and jury. We're a church. We can't be any of those things. God has actually already assigned those things. God has instituted the authorities that are within our context. And we can't be all of those things, nor should we try to be all of those things. We've got to know our lane and know our limits.

But at the end of the day, if we don't, what we end up doing is we get we get caught up in trying to make the truth what we want it to be. Instead what it is. And that's not a good look for us as the people of Jesus, regardless of how it turns out. Our job is to put Jesus on display in how we do what we do, that people can detect the heart of Christ.

So what Paul says to us is flee the foolish and pursue godly maturity. So that people can see the truth of Jesus. This is heavy on my heart, and I'll tell you why. Because I feel like in the world that we live in, I just read some new research from Barna, and it basically was research with everybody, not just Christians, but like everybody.

And there's a really, really positive view of Jesus in the country that we live in a positive, really overwhelmingly positive view of Jesus and an overwhelmingly negative view of people who say they follow him. That great disconnect. Some of it is just anger and evil and rebellion in the hearts of people that don't know Jesus. And they're just going to anything.

They're just going to say, right? That's part of it. The other part is the grand hypocrisy of people that say that they know Jesus but don't look anything like him because of the way that we conduct ourselves, the way that we talk, the way that we treat people, all of those things. And Paul saying to Timothy, you can't be like that.

And the Body of Christ, we can't be like that. Because what we're doing at that point when we're acting in those ways and we're acting in ways that are inconsistent with Jesus is we're veiling to the world what Jesus actually looks like and who he is and what he does. We have to let his truth stand alone in that truth will divide.

When Jesus says on the way the truth in life, no one comes to the Father except through me. That's going to divide people. And they're going to be like, Oh, no. Well, that's just the truth. And the weight of that just has to fall, period. Not our job to try and make it more palatable. It just is right.

It just is. We just stand in it. But we ourselves don't want to act so inconsistently with the beauty of who Christ is and his life in us, that we veil who He is to the people that are all around us. That's why this is important to me. That's why it should be important to you. Because God wants to say something deep to us in this of what it what it's like to live in the culture that we live in.

It's not easy. It's not easy to live in this culture. It's not easy to lead in this culture. It's challenging because everybody wants a pound of flesh. Everyone everybody wants a public spectacle. Everybody wants a fight. They want the coliseum where we need to be people who are willing to say, How about coffee? Even though I hate coffee, how about hot chocolate?

I don't drink that either. How about water? Let's go with that. That's a safe spot, right? Let's bar heads together. In this moment. I would simply say this to those of you who may be here and never before put your trust in Jesus. I want you to know something that he has absorbed the wrath of your sin that is just justly distributed by a holy God.

He has absorbed it. He's paid for our sins of the cross. He's risen from the dead. Showing his sacrifice was sufficient. And if you'll put your faith and trust in him, you'll forgive your sins and you'll change your life. And if that's your need today, we've got some men and women that are down front right here that would love to take a moment and talk to you about that Need.

There will be no greater decision you'll ever make in your life. So I would encourage you when we dismiss in a moment, you'll just come take one of them by the hand. They love to take a moment, pray with you, send you home with something that'll help you in your journey of faith. So please do it, Father. For each of us, those of us that claim to know you as Lord and Savior who've been changed by you.

I know this is a great reminder, Lord, to my own life. And I humble myself under your word. And I pray that we as a people would do the same and that people would really be able to see and to smell the aroma of Christ in our lives in the way that we conduct ourselves in person and even how we conduct ourselves in mediums like social platforms and the Internet.

Father, would you help us to help us to be people who know what it's like to love and to absorb wrong when we need to, and to not be resentful and to not be quarrelsome and not look for a fight, but instead to be gentle and even in our instruction, to be gracious and kind to everyone. Would you help us to be that kind of people?

Because that's who you were. Jesus is who you are. Jesus in our own lives. So would you shape us more into your image so that the world could see not a perfect picture of you, but a clearer one And they could see the Jesus behind our lives and within our lives so that they may come to a knowledge of the truth.

We pray you do this in our hearts. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Subject: Living and Leading in Controversy

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