A contentious person–and how I almost became one

How glad I am for God’s Word and prayer.

I recently read something controversial that I felt I needed to answer right away. When I prayed about answering, this verse came to mind: But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God (1 Corinthians 11:16). The context of this verse is the controversy about headcoverings and long hair for men and women. It’s not worth arguing about.

Another verse about being contentious says, It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman (Proverbs 21:19). An additional Proverb says, A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike (Proverbs 27:15).

I don’t want to be a person no one wants to live with or a source of water torture. Quickly, I put my plan to respond to this person to rest.

The Bible uses another colorful illustration about being contentious: As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife (Proverbs 26:21).

No one wants to add fuel to a problem.

You may have thought about times when we’re supposed to contend. Contend means “to strive against.” We’re to contend for the faith (truth, pure doctrine). Defend it.

But, being contentious means arguing for the sake of argument, stirring up strife, nagging, and adding fuel to the fire. In short, it’s being a real pain.

This never helps the cause of Christ.

Jesus gave us this example: He held His peace.

As I get older and—I hope—more mature, I am learning that most controversies don’t require an answer. People have already made up their minds. It is totally useless to argue.

Many of the subjects are silly, too. Who cares if the sky is actually blue or if it is a reflection of certain bands of light and only perceived as blue? We could argue all day. Is it blue? Yes. But, who cares whether it is actually blue or the perception of blue?

We’re supposed to defend the gospel and sound doctrine. But, most battles don’t call for our participation.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).

Let’s be peacemakers instead of contentious.

I’m glad I prayed first.

Whatever you do

I was reading Colossians 3, a powerful chapter of instruction for Christians, and the phrase “whatsoever ye do” popped out at me. It reminded me immediately of this first verse in 1 Corinthians.

Let’s read the three verses, and then we’ll find out what we’ve learned.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:17).

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:24).

Whatever we do, we’re to do it:

  • to the glory of God—This means that our actions actually convey honor and glory to God. Do they?
  • in the name of the Lord Jesus—Our words and actions are to be done in Jesus’ name. Are we living so that all our actions and words are done in the name of Jesus?
  • giving thanks to God—Thanksgiving is the mark of a Christian life. Do we give praise in all our words and actions?
  • heartily—”From the soul” is the Greek word’s meaning. Do we do everything from the heart?
  • to the Lord and not men—Pleasing God should motivate a Christian’s walk and talk. Are we God pleasers or men pleasers?

Every one of these verses convicted my soul. My actions, thoughts, words, and motivations fall far short of this ideal.

I am praying that whatever I do today gets closer to these high goals and that something will bring Him glory.

It’s a start.

Ears

Have you noticed what happens to people’s ears when they wear masks? Now, even the finest ears are sticking out or bending over at the top.

My husband thinks the market for plastic surgery to fix outie ears will be at its peak after the corona virus scare is over.

I personally find the whole look hilarious—covered mouths and funny ears. Gotta laugh. Just loosen the straps, folks. Or, push them back a little.

Some people wear their masks on their chins, like weird Santa beards in kooky colors, but we were talking about ears, weren’t we?

God created ears, one on each side of our heads. Brilliant, really. He could have put them anywhere. After all, He’s the Great Designer. But, He balanced them, cupped them to capture sounds, and even made us stereo. How cool is that?

In Scripture, God talks about different kinds of ears, none of them post-Covid bent over. These are from the New Testament:

  • Dull ears—Jesus said, For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them (Matthew 13:15).
  • Deaf earsHaving eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? (Mark 8:18)
  • Resisting, stopped up earsYe stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord (Acts 7:51, 57).
  • Itching ears that believe fables instead of truthFor the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
  • Hearing earsBut blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear (Matthew 13:16).
  • Healed earsAnd he (Jesus) took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain (Mark 7:33, 35).
  • Ears to hear ScriptureAnd he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears (Luke 4:21).

In contrast, God’s ears are always open to His children: For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers (1 Peter 3:12a).

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Non-mask masks, on uncovered faces

By now, we’ve read, heard, and seen enough reactions to mask wearing to make us sick of the idea, whichever way we believe. The purpose of this post isn’t to add to the endless debate. It isn’t even about the debate.

I don’t care what you do.

Your decision.

I was thinking how strange the whole mask thing is, though. In most ancient cultures, people wore masks to pretend they were something else. Greeks, Mayans, Native Americans, African tribes, Brazilian people groups, Japanese actors … nearly everyone has some kind of a mask tradition. Some are religious, some cultural, some play acting, and others are for protection, like the Samurai and knights in Europe, for example.

Before Covid, you would never walk into a bank with any kind of a mask on. Now, everyone does—and in Spain, people stand in a line with 6 feet of space between them, marked on the floor.

Before this year, you would rarely see anyone in an airport or on a walk with a face covering. Now, you can buy them in patterns, motifs, and in colors to match any outfit. Airports require them. Some cities and countries do, too.

Masks are weird things. They hide people.

Most little kids like them. They think they look scary. Several of our grandchildren have “scared” us with their faces in masks. “Grr!” T-Rex is after us. “Boo! Were you scared?”

Yet, in these modern times, we go to the grocery store masked. In the stores that I frequent, we must also wear gloves. (Yes, I understand, and I wear them. No problem.) I wonder what someone would do if I started chasing them and growling or hid and said Boo! It could be hilarious.

Most of the time, masks make us into things we aren’t.

I was thinking about some non-mask masks, the ones people wear even when their faces are completely uncovered. Let me suggest a few.

The Liar’s Mask—Some people are professionals. They can look you straight in the eyeballs and lie. These people are manipulators, cheats, embezzlers, and thieves. They know which strings to pull in order to come out on top. God hates lies. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).

The Ugly Green Mask—Envy seems to be a common sin among both men and women. It’s about wanting what another has or wanting to be like another person or even disliking a person because they are beautiful, rich, talented, successful, or whatever. Envy is the opposite of contentment. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5). This actually means we’re supposed to be content with what we have right now. The last part of the verse means our contentment should be found in God Himself—because He won’t ever turn His back on us. What a beautiful promise!

The Apostle Paul blows me away with this verse, written to the young pastor, Timothy: And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). Not even roof, heat, running water, and pumpkin spice latte? Yep, Scripture says so.

We should all keep a look out for ugly green face coverings.

The Friend Mask—Some people act sweet and syrupy when face-to-face, but as soon as you leave, these people will be more than happy to slander, stab you in the back, and spread nasty stories. The old saying, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” characterizes them. Scripture recommends faithful friends. A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17).

Real friends are honest and helpful. Fake friends aren’t really friends. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6).

The Goody Two-Shoes Mask—Hypocrites come in all sizes and shapes, but those in churches can do a lot of harm, especially to their own families. On the outside—and at church—they look, talk, and smell like wonderful Christians. But sadly, their insides are cruel, rotten, and abusive. How should we feel about these people? Seriously, they need prayer and careful confrontation. Some pastors are fantastic about sniffing them out and trying to help. Personally, I can take an out-and-out sinner before these two-faced people.

But, when we think about it, we have all worn the Goody Two-Shoes Mask from time to time. Maybe we’re not rotten inside, but we’ve given one impression when the reality was less than nice.

The religious people in Jesus’ day had the same problem. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27). Let’s not be like them.

The Real Mask—This one looks just like the person under it. It isn’t false at all. With this person, what you see is what you get. They are the genuine deal, transparent, honest, good through and through. How I appreciate someone like this!

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:12-17).

A genuine Christian shows his face. He acts like a child of God and glorifies God by loving others. Real Christians are thankful and pleasant to be around.

If you’re going to wear a mask, wear this last kind.

You’ll be beautiful.