“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
It’s fair to say that most of the people of this world are in opposition to God. Even many who claim to be Christians today are teaching things that are in direct opposition to His word. Of course this shouldn’t come as any surprise to us. Jesus and the Apostles were opposed by the world and two thousand years later the world is still hostile in its defiance towards Christ and his truth.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes this makes me angry. And, I don’t mean the righteous kind of anger... sometimes I just get plain mad at the people themselves. Maybe you can relate? Do you ever find yourself getting a little heated at someone who expresses their ungodly opinions? Maybe you’ve had to bite your tongue once or twice when your unsaved in-laws reaffirms their “pro-choice” stance. Perhaps you’ve even responded harshly to a neighbour or friend when they have acted in a less-than-Christian manner towards you or your family.
I can assure you you’re not alone if you have, but Paul’s words to Timothy are a good reality check for us in those moments. The people of this world are held captive by the devil. Satan is a liar and those under his control are deceived by him. They say and do what they say and do because “the God of this world has blinded their minds” (2 Cor 4:4). It is in light of this that the Apostle instructs us to respond with kindness, patience and gentleness. Jesus prayed for the people of this world while he was on the cross, “... they know not what they do.”
We are to correct when we have opportunity, but always from the place of love, not anger. We were once blind to the truth. Had we not been saved by his lavish grace, we too would be living in rebellious opposition to the Lord. If we had not been brought into the marvelous light of the gospel, where would we be today?
So the next time a politician says something that you find offensive, instead of arguing with the tv, take a moment to pray for them. When your neighbor’s unwholesome language offends you remember he is in bondage and your kindness and compassion in Christ could be the keys to his freedom. When that family member that doesn’t know the Lord calls you a “science-deny-er” because you believe God is our Creator, don’t forget that God looks beyond their foolish arrogance and loves them, as should we.
It’s easy, when we hear people’s words and witness their behaviour to mistake them for the enemy. But, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the spirit of wickedness that controls the thoughts of men. Instead, “...be kind to all, ..., patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition,” and “...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.”