08/16/M – Engage with Gentleness

Jeremiah 44:24-46:12; 2 Timothy 2:22-26; Psalms 93:1-5; Proverbs 21:14-16

NT: “Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:22-26‬ ‭CSB)

I wonder if tensions were high in the Ephesian church. When pressures arise and opinions begin to compete, the temptation is to raise your voice to try and drown out your competitors. Paul told Timothy to flee from youthful passions. The Greek word behind passions actually refers to lusts and desires. I wonder if the desire to be proven right falls into that category. I know that my desire to be proven right can become quite passionate – especially when I know that the voices arguing against me are completely wrong. When that happens, the temptation is always to become quarrelsome. The only problem with that is, when you become quarrelsome and argumentative – it doesn’t matter what side of the issue you are on, you have been taken captive by the devil’s will.

Paul’s wise advice to Timothy, instead of loudly pursuing his passionate desires, was to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. Anyone who sincerely follows the Lord in faith should do that. All who are in Christ should reject foolish and ignorant disputes, for they do not produce good fruit. The Greek word behind disputes refers to controversial matters. We have had a lot of controversial matters lately – and a lot of believers have allowed themselves to engage in disputes that have only led to unfruitful and sometimes embarrassing quarrels.

According to Paul, instead of quarreling, we need to engage with gentleness and patience. This translation uses gentle or gentleness twice in the same sentence. However, the Greek uses two different words. When Paul said that we must be gentle to everyone, the word that he used there actually means affable. Affable means friendly and at ease, which is quite the opposite of tense and argumentative. When Paul said that we need to instruct our opponents with gentleness, the word that he used there actually means with meekness. Meekness is not weakness. Rather, it is strength under restraint. When we pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, and engage our opponents with gentleness, we glorify God with our attitude and composure, we resist the will of the devil, and we give truth an opportunity to speak and lead others to their senses.

Psalms: “The Lord reigns! He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed, enveloped in strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken. Your throne has been established from the beginning; you are from eternity. The floods have lifted up, Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their pounding waves. Greater than the roar of a huge torrent — the mighty breakers of the sea — the Lord on high is majestic. Lord, your testimonies are completely reliable; holiness adorns your house for all the days to come.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭93:1-5‬ ‭CSB)

One of the main things that causes us to lose our composure is fear: fear of being wrong… fear of losing something valuable… fear of harm. We are living in tumultuous times. The floods have lifted up their voices and we hear the pounding waves all around us. However, greater than all the tumult and the noise of the pounding waves is the Lord God. He is the Lord over the flood and His kingdom cannot be shaken. When Paul said to pursue faith, that is probably part of what he was talking about. There is no need for us to lose our composure due to fear. If we are in Christ by faith, we are His and He is ours. As He is above the tumult, so are we in Him. The Lord reigns! Have faith and be at peace.

Prayer: Lord, You said, “Blessed are the meek and humble, for they will inherit the earth.” When You were opposed, You never lost control, but always addressed your opposers with strength under restraint. Because You were able to engage with gentleness, I can engage with gentleness by Your Spirit within me. Help me to not be overcome by the tumult of the times, but instead pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace by Your grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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