Meeting With Opposition

Sam Petitfils 

“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” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Often, the Bible runs against common thinking. Most people fight fire with fire, seeking to at least match the fury of their opponents. But the Bible prescribes a different remedy. These verses answer several questions:

How should I not do battle?

Quite clearly the Apostle Paul cautions us against an aggressive approach. He does not want us to quarrel endlessly with those who oppose the Christian message. Though at times Paul verbally sparred with his detractors, and at times we need to do the same, he normally did not spend too much time quarrelling with his enemies. He saw this as a fruitless endeavor, not producing positive fruit.

How should I conduct myself?

Paul writes that we should be “kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” Notice that he did not tell us to refrain from correcting people. Quite the contrary, he tells us to persevere in this. But we need to adopt a gentle spirit, exercising patience and responding with kindness to all.

Why must I respond this way?

Paul encourages Timothy by reminding him that it may please God to save some of his hearers. If God grants them repentance, then the very people who opposed the gospel message will join hands with Timothy in spreading the good news. How marvelous is that? God could use Timothy’s gentle perseverance as a powerful witness.

Christians do not ever lay down their arms. They use different arms. Elsewhere Paul would write:

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

The Christian marches out to battle, but uses different weapons. Again, Paul writes that we conduct our ministry:

“By purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left” (2 Corinthians 6:6-7).

When faced with bitter opposition and conflict, we tend to react rather than consider the right course of action. Our most powerful weapon comes from a Spirit-controlled walk and persevering in the fight. Take up your weapons and march to the battle front, but don’t take the weapons of this world. Remember Jesus before Pilate, and Stephen before the angry mob. The calm, serene spirit of a soul trusting in God can slay the angry opponent, and may result in their conversion to Christ!

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