The word eristicis of Greek origin and refers to those who argue simply for the purpose of winning, regardless of the reason. The word animus comes to us from Latin and means strong dislike. We know this as animosity. While these two words share nothing in common, I believe that the former can lead to the latter causing the two to become intricately linked.
I submit that a growing number of our population cares little about the propriety of civility; they just want to win their arguments. Take the media as an example. Truth is increasingly compromised for the sake of agendas. What we receive as news is increasingly distorted, selective reporting, opinionated, and often condescending—as if we cannot think and form our own views. If there are commentators on opposing sides we listen to interruptions, sarcasm, and putdowns. Once professionalism is abandoned sensationalism takes over.
When a society becomes eristic, it does not take long before animus characterizes its attitudes. When decency is lost conflict follows. History repeatedly proves this. Thus we should not be surprised that when close-minded people don’t get their way or win their arguments they resort to threats, violence, and irrational, hypocritical behavior. This is not new to our age; this is the moniker of every era. It is the natural byproduct of evil.
Titus 2:1—But you must say the things that are consistent with sound teaching.
Paul’s instruction to Titus was given because he knew this young man was surrounded by “Cretans.” Cretans depicted people who were liars, rebels, “full of empty talk and deception” (1:10). Defiled people devalue truth and trash whatever is pure. Their actions are detestable and contagious. Don’t be surprised if they wear religious clothing. Paul did not want Titus to get caught up in such behavior. He wanted him to build up the church with wise teaching and in this way society would be positively impacted.
As followers of Jesus, what comes out of our mouths should be consistently sound. Our focus should not be to win arguments but rather to speak truth. If our mindset slips to disliking those who oppose our views we are in danger of adopting worldly tactics. Jesus did not hate his enemies. Nor did He dilute truth to appease those who objected to His mission.
Is it possible to disagree and be civil? Absolutely. As society deteriorates is it probable that we may die for our faith by wicked hands? Perhaps. Fortunately, our fate is not determined by what the world chooses to do. Therefore, our aim should be to worship God. In the end we will be glorified and eternally rewarded with life in His presence. So be consistently sound. Some will listen.
At the base of all true Christian experience must lie a sound and sane morality.—A.W. Tozer in God’s Pursuit of Man
©2017 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)