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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

truth and error 9: kind to all, v. 24

24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged… (2 Timothy 2:24)
Having given three warnings or dangers to avoid in the previous verses, Paul now gives four qualities which characterize “vessels of honor” – those seeking to follow Jesus Christ and be approved by God. These qualities are set against the example of Hymenaeus and Philetus, and the damage being caused within the church as they use words like swords to harm and cut up the body of Christ.

First, the Lord’s bond-servant must be “kind to all.” There is the same danger here as with “meekness” – confusing kindness (or meekness) with being a kind of human doormat… getting pushed around by the bullies and never standing up for anything. But this is set precisely in a passage all about standing up for truth! The whole point is about HOW one stands up for truth. Do you do so by arguing, quarreling, lashing out angrily in truth? If you’ve ever wielded the truth in this way, you may have seen how ineffective it seems to be. I’m specifically tying this to the “word-wrangling” which means “to wield words as swords.” Truth and God’s word is indeed like a sharp blade, but more like that of a surgeon’s knife than a thug’s weapon. It only confuses and masks truth to wield it in anger. Here Paul is repeating his admonition from Ephesians 4:15 to “speak the truth in love.”

To illustrate the difference simply, consider the difference between me coming up to you and saying, “You’re wrong, you unthinking idiot” and “You’re wrong, friend.” Magnify those examples by mannerism, posture, tone, and attitude, and you can so deafen people with your posture that they will be incapable of hearing the truth, no matter how truthful it is. Contrast that with kindness, which opens the other’s ears, fosters trust and maintains relationship.

Paul’s advice here goes beyond confrontations about church teachings. It’s good advice for any conflict or confrontation you face. We’ll explore three more qualities in the next post.

Posts in this "Truth and Error" series:
1 - intro and core doctrine, 2 timothy 2.14-26
2 - word-wrangling, v. 14
3 - study, v. 15
4 - a local challenge, vv. 16-18
5 - church pictures, vv. 19-21
6 - empty talk, vv. 16-18
7 - immaturity and distraction, v. 22
8 - false teaching, v. 23
9 - kind to all, v. 24
10 - able to teach, patient, gentle, vv. 24-25
11 - gracious hope, vv. 25b-26a
12 - enemy clarification, v. 26b

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