There is a passage of Scripture that has greatly impacted the way in which I live my life, especially in a pastoral sense. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (ESV) says: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
This passage of Scripture goes against everything that feels natural to me as far as dealing with conflict and opposition. I like a more hands on approach that squelches the oppositions actions and is more…. Well, you get the picture: my natural approach is not like the aforementioned passage. In this passage, Paul is talking to Timothy and explaining to him how it is that the Lord’s servant should be. The word there for servant (δοῦλος in the Greek, pronounced d00′-los) means more than just a servant; it means bond-servant or slave. Knowing that this doesn’t mean one who has chosen to serve and more means those who have been “bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20) who are redeemed (purchased) by the blood of Jesus Christ, I find there is more urgency to apply this text to my life than when I thought I could just be a spectator to this ideal. I am, as one who has been “bought with a price” – the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ, supposed to be like this passage.
The hardest part for me is to “not be quarrelsome”. I like to argue. Ask my parents. Ask my siblings. Ask my wife. I like to be quarrelsome. This stems mostly because I like to be right in nearly every situation. Fortunately for everyone, I am not always right. Instead of being quarrelsome, we are supposed to be “kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting…opponents with gentleness”. Some of you may be thinking, as I did upon first reading this: what about that time that Jesus braided a whip, flipped over tables, and ran evildoers out of the temple. I daresay that this is contrary to most people’s view of gentle! However, I came to three conclusions: 1) I am not Jesus, 2) There are many more times that Jesus dealt with things gently than he flipped over tables, and 3) there is more to the passage.
Jesus, in Matthew 21, Mark 11, and John 2, was righteous in his anger and actions. I, however, am not, usually, in mine. The thing that helps me keep focused in not being quarrelsome and striving to be all those things that I am supposed to be is the last part of that passage. “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” I, in and of myself, am incapable of rescuing those held captive by the “snare of the devil…to do his will.” The reason that I strive to be kind, able to teach, endure evil patiently, and to gently correct is so that I do not detract from God who does the work. I, as the Lord’s doulos, strive to submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7) so that “God may perhaps grant…repentance” to those whom I am called to shepherd and deal with.
Now that I have given how the Word tells us we should be, I would like to add one opinion on how to be gentle: be blunt. Speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), but get the truth out there sooner rather than later so as to not bury it under the beatings of the bush.
Yours and His,