But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. Titus 3:9-10 (NIV,1978)

Everyone has his or her own special quirks that some find humorous, and others find annoying. I am certainly no exception. I find humor to be my primary defense mechanism to alleviate moments of extreme nervousness. My wife tells me that I can, at times, be long-suffering to a fault. This is primarily due to my distaste for confrontation and arguing. Seriously, have you ever known anyone with a graduate degree in theology who didn’t love a good, spirited doctrinal debate? That would be me. It’s not that some things are not worth defending—it’s just that somewhere along the line, being right often becomes more important than settling an issue and, more importantly, little or nothing meaningful has been accomplished.

Paul was no stranger to arguing his defense of the Gospel. In fact, when we search the scriptures for the one character who was most successful in searching for (and finding) a good fight, regardless of the potential consequences, we would have to say Paul is the man. In fact, the fight usually found him! But, when it came time to instruct Titus, his son in the ministry, on how to minister to the inhabitants of Crete, Paul warned him to stick to the basic message of living a life that reflects a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Cretans had a reputation of touting their knowledge of God, yet their behavior seldom matched their testimony. We, likewise, live in a society that has created God in its own image and has no issue with taking Christians to task on their narrow-minded, outdated belief in every subject from creation to salvation.

The temptation would be to enter into endless “Facebook-style” debates with those who have no desire to know the truth, but only to make well-meaning believers look foolish. When we encounter those who clearly only seek to waste time, Paul’s instructions above are clear. Remember, five minutes sharing truth with someone lost and hurting is far more profitable than debating for hours with those who will never change their minds.

Time and words are too precious to be wasted.