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 come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
(Paul’s second letter to Timothy ESV)
What wonderful words of wisdom of wisdom Paul shares with Timothy in this passage. Paul wants Timothy to know how to best way deal with those that oppose his teaching. Paul says that the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome. Oh if we would take that to heart when engaged in conversation with others about the word of God.
All too often we find ourselves being quarrelsome rather than gentle. I know from personal experience, gentle teaching works far better in most cases than confrontation does. Patience and gentleness with one’s opponent certainly takes effort sometimes, but it is worth the effort. Correction need not be harsh to illicit a response from someone. Harshness drives people away, it does not bring them around to your view on a matter.
When someone is steeped in a false teaching it will take time to help them see God’s perspective. We must remember that it is our goal to teach them God’s ways. Not “our” ways. We have to bare in mind when teaching someone that we are trying to impart God’s word to them and how we do it will have a lasting effect on them. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Psalm 16 ESV Teaching is feeding, force feeding is not the best way to give someone the spiritual food they need. Gentle persuasion will get them to open up to all that God has for them.
So, when we engage an opponent let’s do it with gentleness and kindness. We have the example of Jesus to follow, He showed us the best way to teach, let’s follow in His steps.
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Psalm 15 ESV
© 2013 Leo J. Woodman