Cutting a Straight Path
Have you ever known a hot-head? This would be someone who finds a reason to get upset in just about any situation. To be fair, some situations are deserving of an emotional response. The hot-head can’t discern the appropriate occasions for those emotions, and oft-times they find themselves dealing with the consequences of their lack of self-control.
In 2 Timothy 2:14-26, Paul says several times that men and women of God are to avoid quarrels about useless things. He says that we are “not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers…Avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness…Have nothing to do with ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels (vv. 14, 16, 23).”
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t disagree with people, rather that we need to discern when it is appropriate. Instead of producing fruit, disputes about insignificant things that don’t have any bearing on how the Gospel impacts our lives “spread like gangrene” and eat away at the body of Christ. It is right for us to dispute when the integrity of the Gospel is at stake. For this purpose we do our best to rightly handle the word of truth, so that when an errant doctrine arises we can address it accurately, whether it has come from within or outside of the household of faith.
Furthermore, when we do have a disagreement with an unbeliever about the faith, the way that we are to conduct ourselves is not as a hot-head. Instead, we are to be meek as our Lord was meek (Matt 27:12-14; 1 Pet 2:23). The “opponents” in verse 25 are not simply people who disagree with us, but are unbelievers who have not embraced the truth of the Gospel for themselves. Paul is calling the people of God to respond in gentle correction and instruction, because our greatest hope is that “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may…escape the snare of the devil (vv. 25-26).”
by Pastor Aaron Lockhart
- When a difficult situation or confrontation comes up, am I quick to respond or do I examine the root of the conflict for its kingdom significance?
- How well do I exhibit the fruit of gentleness in my life (Gal 5:23)? Am I the source of insignificant conflict and ignorant controversies?
- When a believer strays from the truth into unsound doctrine, how do I care for them?
- How would an unbeliever perceive me in a conflict? How well does my conduct align with the message of my evangelism?