9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
Paul just finished describing what is “profitable for men”. Here is a warning against the opposite. What is not profitable to men? Verse 10 made me turn to the original Greek for better understanding. The original work is hairetikos meaning “heretic or one who believes and preaches false doctrine.” The word “warning” here is the same that is used earlier for exhortation or godly correction. Paul is advising Titus not to waste his time on such men because they are merely condemning themselves. Their actions and words evidently convict themselves.
It is quite easy to get caught up in finger pointing and proving one’s own correct doctrine and trying to prove the incorrect doctrine of others. My friends, this is a distraction! If we are focused on the right and wrong of others, how focused are we on Christ? Certainly, there is a place for exhortation and warning, and by no means am I trying to discourage that, but we must be careful we don’t get caught up in the very thing we are advising against. I always keep in mind what the great Jewish teacher Gamaliel said about the first Christians in Acts 8 when the religious leaders wanted to silence them and put a stop to the miracles they were performing:
35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan oraction is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
Not only is our fighting and arguing over these things unprofitable and in vain, but if our supposed “opponent” is doing the Will of God, then what are we so caught up about? If it isn’t of God, will it last? If it is, then isn’t it foolish to fight against it? I have found that for myself, I must avoid this type of activity because I very quickly get caught up in self-righteousness and the desire to prove myself right; an exercise in the righteousness of my own knowledge and not the righteousness of God.
This isn’t to mean that we should just accept what everyone says, for Paul tells us that after we attempt to exhort someone (in a loving, Godly way as we saw in Paul’s letters to Timothy), we should then reject and avoid such persons, organizations, etc. We must be careful not to get pulled into the same sins that others are committing. There is a fine line between correction, discussion, and useless banter. When in such discussions, be sure to constantly check your heart and your motives. The enemy is sly and knows how prideful we humans are. Additionally, we must make sure such conversations are centered upon discovering the truth and growing in our relationship with others and with God.