“But he’s completely and totally wrong—he didn’t even read what it says!”
These words were my justification to my wife (Patty) when I wanted to reply to someone’s comment on something I’d written on social media. This person had taken what I’d written and replied to me using what they thought I meant instead of what I wrote. And they were way off.
It’s not that my wife disagreed with me, she just reminded me that it’s a waste of time to respond to foolishness. She was right. The half-baked mistyped response to my comment wasn’t worth the effort. She counseled me to keep studying and walking confidently in what I was called to do and let go of my desire to comment.
I took her advice. And I’d think the Apostle Paul would have agreed with my wife’s approach based on 1 Timothy 4:7-8:
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:7-8
New International Version
Paul’s warning is extreme: “have nothing to do with” the spiritually bankrupt teachings of those in Ephesus espousing this misinformation. This isn’t a mild rejection, but complete and total rejection. Paul is telling Timothy to not even entertain such thoughts or conversations. His time in Ephesus was too precious to waste it swatting at theological gnats.
While there are times when we must confront false teaching, there is also a time when Scripture commands us to simply ignore false teaching. These theological gnats don’t even need to entertain our thinking.
Entertaining these thoughts will not do us any good. Instead, we are told what will do us good. Developing a life of godliness. Robustly preparing ourselves in the disciplines of righteousness will make a real difference both in our lives and to those around us.
This stood in sharp contrast to the abstinence from marriage and certain foods some in the Ephesian churches were advocating. Their abstinence was done to withdraw from Earthly pleasures so others could see. Godliness pursues self-control to gain eternity because others are watching us. There’s a real difference.
And sometimes, the self-control is actually NOT engaging with every theological gnat buzzing by you. This is especially true with social media. It seems the majority of the comments made on an article or status update are based on the headline alone and not the content of it.
These types of arguments are pointless, fruitless, and unproductive. While there is certainly a time to “answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:5), the wisdom from Scripture also informs us, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him” (Proverbs 26:4).
Perhaps Paul’s advice is a little timelier than we think.
As I understand, fraud experts in the banking system do not spend a lot of time learning to see and feel the difference between real and counterfeit bills. Instead, they spend a great amount of time exercising their ability to see and feel the real thing.
In the same way, we better serve the Lord by knowing more about the truth of God’s Word and applying that truth to our lives than spending copious amounts of time on social media correcting others.
Perhaps we should try this week to turn to our personal worship time with the Lord through prayer and Bible study before we type in that reply to someone engaging in “godless myths and old wives’ tales”.
Let’s connect! I’ve set up a Facebook account where I’m now sharing my blogs, podcasts, messages, and things I hope help you on the journey.
Interested in more like this? Consider Joel’s book: 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom: A Month in the Proverbs. Moving through a selection of verses from a chapter of Proverbs for every day of the month, Joel walks readers through a journey of spiritual formation applicable to everyday life. The goal? Knowing how to apply the wisdom of Scripture so we grow in our faith, become wiser, and show the world the life-changing power of Jesus.