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We Only Get So Many Words

July 19, 2011

Summer is prime time to bring our focus back to our families and strengthen them in the truth. If building your family on the truth were easy, everybody would be doing it—but many aren’t. Diligence and persistence are absolutely necessary. In the book of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul was writing to a young pastor named Timothy about building his ministry. By application, these truths also have much to say about building strong families.

Look at what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:14–15: “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (NKJV).

Yes, diligence is essential to building your family on the truth, but what kind of diligence? And how does persistence fit in?

Notice that phrase in verse 14, “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them.” In other words, this is serious business! Pay attention. God’s got some stuff that He wants communicated. We need to be very focused on this. And charge them how?—”in the presence of God.” The idea here is that we are not alone. Almighty God Himself is with us and is very intent on this message. He wants us all to hear it; so we’d better listen up.

“Charge them . . . not to wrangle about words.” I wonder if there is anything that brings such devastation to our homes as wrangling about words. That word wrangle could be translated literally “a war of words.” It’s the silly, nonsensical, back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth arguing and blah, blah, blah of life. Anybody who provides marriage counseling knows that when a couple comes in and says, “Our thing is unraveling so bad that we have to come and talk to one of the pastors,” nine times out of ten the pastor will listen for a short while and think to himself, What’s your deal? You’re fighting about what? Your whole marriage is unraveling over this? You’re kidding me, right? Silly, secondary issues that are not substantive or significant, and that ought not to be tearing our homes apart.

Paul warns that wrangling about words “is useless.” It’s of no value; it’s worthless. It’s talk, talk, talk, talk, talk—wrangling about words. Let me ask you a question. Would you take your hard-earned money and invest it in a company if it were going bankrupt? It would be a waste of money, right? Would you bet on a racehorse (well, we don’t bet on horses, but you know what I’m saying) with a broken leg? That would be a really bad decision. The concept in this verse is the very same. It’s worthless to wrangle about words.

We only get so many words in our families. The older our kids get, the fewer words we have with them. What are you going to spend your words on? “Clean up your room!” “I asked you five times to take out the garbage!” “How many cookies have you had since lunch?” Is that how you’re going to spend your words? Like that’s going to have a big impact! I fear we’re wasting our words on issues of little value, and then we’re too exhausted to pour into our families the kind of truth that can be a fountain of life to them. Instead, let’s choose words of truth that build and guide and that establish a foundation of wisdom for our families that will last them a lifetime.


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