Imagine that you have conducted a diligent search for a qualified painter to repaint your living room, dining room, master bedroom and bath. You even ask neighbors for recommendations and interview several contractors and chose the one who impressed you most. He returns in a few days to present his contract, which is specific and thorough and impressive. You sign it, are presented your copy, and you write him a check for twenty-five present of the total cost. Before the beginning date you and your spouse remove wall decorations and every small item from tables. You are excited and ready for the agreed-on date for his crew to show. But the crew does not show on the date, and when you call the contractor to find out why, he babbles some excuse about trouble with a truck or van. The next day the crew does show, moves furniture in the living room, spreads drop cloths over everything, and leaves for a lunch break, never to return. You make another call only to hear the owner’s voice mail message. All calls that afternoon to him go directly to voice mail, and frustration grows in your home. But the next morning, his crew appears and works a full day to finish the living room. You and your spouse breath a big sigh of relief and that night re-arrange the freshly painted and pleasing room. But your happiness ends the next morning when the crew does not come to paint the dining room, which is in disarray waiting to be painted. You get the picture; and you may have had a similar experience of deciding when to forget the time and money you have invested and find another paint contractor. Is such a contentious time worth the price?
The above scenario is all too real, and it is important for Christ followers. Our time is much like that of the 1st century Christians—we have contention all about us, and how are we to deal with them is easy to answer, but difficult to do: We turn to God and give it all to Him. Yet, we are so involved in the day-to-day events of our lives, like the story of the painting, that we fail to hear the answer that Scripture gives us: Avoid contentions and contentious people. While the Bible was written in the arena of early Christianity and its unrest, such as that which Paul in his two letters to Timothy points out, we should follow it and its wisdom in our modern, secular lives. The painting contractor, like so much in our secular lives, will consume our resources and lives if we do not fully use our discernment.
Sin is like that mythical contractor because by trying to control, we will fail. Sin, like that contractor, will consume our lives and we will expend resources that will produce no useful product. The rooms may eventually be painted, but at what cost to us? Is this a battle worth the price? Has our ego taken over our senses? We Christ followers find many situations and people like this one surrounding us and we need to go to God’s word and examine what it tells us to do and how to act.
We Christ followers are warned that His path is not an easy one, but we are re-assured that if we walk His path we will be rewarded. We are also reminded that some battles are beyond us, and we are to “shake the dust from our sandals” and move on. The situation with the painting contractor is an example of one in which we will only lose. Just like all situations involving sin. These contentious times and people tempt us, and we think that we are in control or that we need to “stay fully informed.” But no, the sin controls, and we need to wash our hands of the situation or person and return to God.