The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)Living Beyond Yourself study into the fruit of the Spirit is wonderful). It confounded me because I so often find myself in conversations with those that oppose me - whether it be over Biblical or political/moral convictions.
First of all, let me clearly state that what I believe isn't just some far-fetched idea that has no standing. Faith in God is certain, it is unchanging, it is firm, it is enduring because He is certain, unchanging, firm, and enduring. His Word (the Bible) is solid. I may change my mind about many things in my lifetime, but God does not change. Politics, social issues, and our culture may change and evolve, but God tells us what to think of such things as the value of life, homosexuality, freedom, bondage, etc. And if I am standing firm on His eternal, unchanging way, then my stance will not waiver...even if the cultural tide changes. So much of the world is blown about with different "winds of doctrine." (Eph. 4:14) We change our ideas as the wind changes. Some think this ever-evolving, "tolerant" (of all things except the one true God) relativism is the way to go, but I choose to think for myself and to cling to that which I know that I know that I know:
- absolute truth as defined in His holy and enduring Word,
- freedom because Jesus has set us free (Gal. 5:1),
- life deeply valuable because God has created men and women in His image,
- the incredible effectiveness of a husband and wife family as the foundation of society.
In the words of the great Del Tackett: "Do you really believe that what you really believe is really real?" (If you haven't seen The Truth Project yet, purpose in your heart to see it. Ask to show it in your church.)
So, as I read this passage this morning, I am so encouraged to see God address in His holy scriptures how to deal with those who oppose us (just as He addresses all that concerns us - "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through Him who called us by His own glory and goodness" ~2 Ptr. 1:3). With those that oppose me, I must be gentle and kind, able to teach and not resentful. Ok, so I am not always gentle, kind, able to teach or un-resentful...but I want to be. I must check the motive of my heart. Do I just want to be right, or do I want to gently teach others to walk in truth and righteousness for the sake of their eternal souls? The very fact that verses 25 & 26 say these words encourages me greatly: "...in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."
Wow! There is hope! How often do I forget that the whole world is under the sway of the evil one? "For we battle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:12) Yes! It is true! Those who are relentless in the destruction of the unborn and deceptively re-word their cause as "women's rights," those who destroy the family and the God-ordained (He is after all incomprehensibly wiser than us with our little pea brains) role of men and women --- folks who fight tooth and nail for these hideous affairs are under the influence of the most wickedly evil being ever to exist. But greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. (1 Jn. 4:4) Pray that God will grant them knowledge of the truth, to come to their senses, and escape the death grip the devil has on their lives. We all are a slave to someone. If we aren't serving God, then we are serving satan.
There is no walking the fence.
There is no neutral.
There is no middle ground.
Of course, I know this. But to realize that God could lift the veil and enlighten them to the truth often alludes me...not because I think He can't do it, but because people have hardened their hearts so stubbornly against Him that He gives them over to their lusts, their uncleanness, and the dishonoring of their bodies. (Rom. 1: 24) BUT GOD can turn a life 180 degrees.
So, let's be kind, gentle, un-resentful, humble teachers praying at all times for the miraculous work of God in the hearts and minds of a world deceived by the enemy of our souls. We aren't fighting each other, we are fighting an unseen and desperately wicked being. How many times have we heard and said, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" ?
Look at the next passage in 2 Timothy
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power....Well, I can put a check mark by all those adjectives, can you?
Look up for your redemption draws near (Lk. 21:28). In the meantime, let love, kindness and gentleness rule in your heart and thus in your conversation ("For out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak." -Mt. 12:34) in the glorious hope that truth will reign in souls destined for eternal loss so that they may be eternally delivered; so that in this world babies will be valued and granted life; so that those who follow truth will raise a generation of truth-lovers and world-changers.
Let's see those who oppose us in a new perspective today. Lost, wickedly influenced, deeply loved of God, in the image of their Creator. And let's be instant in prayer for them, and for us to respond well.
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)Thanks for sitting in on my Bible study this morning. :)