But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Titus 3:9
Our churches are presently divided about peripheral issues. So strong are the opinions about things not even related to Jesus that one set of believers refuse to fellowship with others who disagree with them. This is not new however. Arguments amongst the believers on the island of Crete were so severe that Paul had to address it with Titus. The points of contention were numerous. In the end, he called them all of them ‘unprofitable and useless.’
I grew up in a culture where Christian books and articles were read with an interest to discern what was wrong with them. They were not instruments for spiritual growth but fodder for correction and debate. With red pen in hand, sections were starred, phrases circled, and when finished, became sermon points and/or the topics of a letter to the author or editor. This culture still exists today.
Conversations that focus on someone’s genealogy for the sake of boasting are also a waste of time. Ancestry.com is interesting. We all need to know where we come from; to know the good and the bad of our family lines. But that’s not what Paul refers to here. There were those who constantly reminded others that they were descendants of Abraham and, therefore, had more importance and authority than their Gentile brothers and sisters. They acted as if their lineage trumped all others. Not only was it mean, it was unbiblical. Whether I have Jewish roots, or I’m tied to European royalty, or I possess a name that links me to the early forefathers in our country, is immaterial. What matters to God is whether I know Jesus and am a part of His family. My spiritual adoption gave me a new lineage and this is the one trumps family trees.
Quarrels about the law also abounded within Titus’ community. False teachers put one burden after another on the shoulders of the new Gentile believers regarding Jewish laws. These were fulfilled in Christ, voided by the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice, but you wouldn’t know it. Think of the effect, emotionally, of such teaching. A Gentile would feel like he couldn’t do enough to please a God who treasured Jews over Gentiles, A God who still enforced the burden of the law over the sufficient work of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Believers who have not conquered the flesh, through the power offered to them by the Spirit of God, love these wranglings. These arguments profit nothing. When Jude exhorted all believers to contend for the faith, he was not referencing the above. In reality, Paul (and Titus) were the ones contending for the faith by silencing false teaching and exhorting believers who engaged in one argument after another to step up to higher things.
I’m reviewing the topics that stir my blood and bring about passion. If there are any that displease You, show me. Amen