The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

2 Timothy 2:24-26

Paul approached his death. Some Christians deserted him (1:15). Timothy, his "son in the faith," would face hardships (2:3). He was concerned about Christians who reduced faithfulness to quarrelsome arguments about words (2:14). Such arguments ruined the listeners. He was concerned about Christians who were consumed by unspiritual, empty chatter (2:16). This kind of talk spread like gangrene. He was concerned about Christians who declared that the resurrection had come and gone (2:18). They were distressing the faith of some. He was concerned about Timothy (2:22,23). He wanted him to avoid ignorant speculations that generated quarrels.

It would seem that a concerned man facing death would sound the alarm. It would seem that he would urge "the faithful" to attack and destroy "the unfaithful." "Evil days are upon us! Attack those who produce the threats and cause our anxiety!"

But Paul did not issue a call to destroy. Paul urged Timothy to cooperate with God's rescue mission. How? As the Lord's slave, he refused to quarrel. Instead, he was to be kind (not irate) and teach (not "lay the law down"). Be patient even when he was wronged! He would gently correct those in opposition.

The next insight is powerful! God is in charge of leading people to repentance. We do not possess the power to cause people to repent! The power of repentance is not found in our arguments, our logic, our "convincing" reasoning, or our powerful stands. God grants repentance by leading a person to a knowledge of the truth. We inform people, but God is in charge when the heart meets the truth.

When we are wrong--no matter who we are--we need to come to our senses (like the prodigal son did!). We need to escape the devil's trap. Someone else cannot do that for us. We must understand the truth of our situation, come to our senses, and desire escape. We must realize that we are doing Satan's will, not God's will.

Jesus proved that God conquers through love, kindness, gentleness, patience, and teaching. Satan had Jesus killed, but Jesus conquered.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 20 June 1999

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