II TIMOTHY 2:24-26: “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” CSB
OBSERVATION: How should God’s people respond to those who oppose the truth? How can we walk in peace while we battle for the truth of the Gospel? What is the real source of the battle – behind the battle?
These are worthy things to consider in this highly charged and divided culture that we find ourselves in. On one side are those who are trying to vilify those who stand up for Biblical values. On the other are those who are taking their battle positions, but many without knowledge. When we draw lines with weapons (even verbal weapons), we are positioning ourselves for a war. In all of this the believer must check their motives and their heart.
When someone throws kerosine on any conversation, we must be careful that we don’t throw a match in retaliation. Quarreling never accomplishes anything. It only causes a fire to erupt that burns both parties. Yet, gentleness, with instruction in the truth, is like water on a roaring fire. It may not put out the fire that is raging from the other side, but it protects the one with the water of truth. However, if I succumb to temptation, and begin throwing fire, I too will be burned!
I remember when I grew up in Diamond Bar, California. The area I lived in used to be a large ranch. As it developed, we were surrounded by hills. The grass would grow tall in the winter, and then dry out and become a fire hazard in the summer. It seemed like every year the hills would burn. When there was a threat of fire danger, or when a fire erupted, we would stand with a hose and water down our shake shingle roofs. This was to keep it from catching fire from a floating ember. I think we need to get our hoses out in the current political and social climate we find ourselves living in.
Truth does not need to be yielded with a hammer. It only needs to be spoken. It can be spoken in gentleness, because the power of truth is not in the presentation, it is in the substance. Truth is powerful, simply because it is truth. In the midst of darkness, truth stands out as a light that pushes the darkness back! Jesus is the essence of all truth. They tried to push Him back, they tried to kill the truth, yet His truth defeated sin, death, and the grave! Our truth can do the same!
- “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:4-5 CSB
We have to keep one thing in mind when we are proclaiming the truth in love in a hate charged society. The enemy we are facing is never the individual. The enemy is the devil and his entrapment of the individual in the lies that bind them. They are striking out simply because they are bound and controlled by the enemy. And, the reality is, they do not know it. Remember, the great Apostle Paul imprisoned and killed Christians, thinking he was doing God’s work, until he met the truth (Jesus) on the road to Damascus.
When we are young we are ready for battle. Armies do not enlist old men to go to war and fight on the front lines. Yet, Paul calls young Timothy to temper his enthusiasm with gentleness and wisdom. Paul reminds Timothy that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the crafty and deceitful plans of the the devil. And, Paul reminds Timothy that our goal is not to prove we are right, but to lead people into the freedom that is found only in Christ Jesus!
- “Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
As I write this I am speaking to my own heart. I am not a young man any more, but I am tempted many times to strike out in the zeal of my youth. I need to fight the battles I face from my knees. When I am on my knees I am surrendered to the Lord, positioned in prayer, and open to His voice and leading. To fight the battles on my knees does not mean I do not speak the truth. It simply means I do not charge ahead with the truth outside of the timing of God, and without the heart of God.
God’s heart is always directed toward the restoration and salvation of sinners. Even when he hung on the cross, Jesus looked upon those who mocked him and rejected the truth and said – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Paul ultimately was martyred for his proclamation of the truth. However, Paul was not martyred for his delivery of the truth. His delivery was with gentleness and confidence in the one in whom He believed!
Lord, thank you for reminding me of this important truth today. You did not give me the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, as a weapon to destroy those who oppose the truth. You gave me this weapon to destroy the one who holds those who oppose Your truth in chains. Your sword is given to overcome the enemy, to break the chains of darkness, and to set the captives free. Help me to use this sword wisely, with gentleness and precision, and always in love!
In Jesus Name!