Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrelsabout the law,because these are unprofitable and useless.(Titus 3:9)

Four religious leaders would often get together to argue the finer points of theology. When each man had a chance to offer his opinion, they would vote to see who was right. If there was a tie, they’d keep going. On one occasion, “Bill” insisted he was absolutely correct, and even appealed to heaven for a sign of affirmation. A booming voice thundered from the clouds, saying “Bill is right!” The other three looked at each other, and then one said, “That makes the vote three to two, so you’re still wrong, Bill.”

Arguments in the church can be so divisive. Many times the arguments are about silly things, like what colors to paint the walls. Paul admonished believers to avoid fighting about things that just don’t matter. Some people seem dead set on keeping the quarrels going. Paul told us to warn these divisive people twice, and then, if they don’t listen, to have nothing to do with them.

Sometimes it’s fun to banter about inconsequential things, as long as the debate stays lighthearted. But when “being right” takes precedence over “being in relationship,” then some serious damage in the body of Christ can occur. Even when the issues are serious, we must also convey to those with whom we disagree that they are more important to us than the point in contention.

Think of a strategy to express your opinions without undermining the unity of your fellowship.

Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor; he is also the small-groups director at his church.