Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture
2 Tim. 2.23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them 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.
I just watched it for the second time” “Lifting the Veil of Polygamy” – produced by Living Hope Ministries: CLICK HERE
And I am as, if not more profoundly moved by it this time. Seeing how deeply so many are mired in the false teaching, deception and heartbreak of Mormonism, both main-stream and the fundamentalist/polygamous types. My heart just breaks.
Maybe you’re like me, and when you see such things, you want to come down really really hard on those who are their apologists and missionaries. My first response (Father, please forgive me) was to want to throttle them. But of course, as our text above notes, that is not the proper response at all. In fact, just the opposite. Which also then begs the question of how we deal with Christians of other stripes when we disagree. But that will have to wait until another time. For now, I want to help us grasp just 3 principles from our text, and handle them in the context of addressing those we interact with from cults and false religions.
Note first, that Paul instructs Timothy to “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies.” This he says on the heels of mentioning the teaching of Hymenaus and Philetus, “who have swerved away from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. This is VERY serious stuff. And it must be addressed – some. But not to get ourselves all caught up in it. Some, especially those who major on such issues, will no doubt think us simply dismissive. So be it. Better to pour ourselves into the building up of the saints in Christ, and bringing the lost to Him. Yes, as Paul’s second dictate will show us, we DO deal with them, but sparingly. It isn’t worth the debate most of the time.
Note secondly, that he bids Timothy to remember his demeanor is to remain “gentle” in these exchanges. I know for myself, the frustration of such encounters can make you want to wring somebody’s neck. But no. Gentleness is the approach. That is not to imply even slightly that we do not speak the truth absolutely, clearly and without equivocation. Precision, and firmness are essential. But also a gentle attitude. This is not Friday Night Smackdown – it is, it MUST be done in kindness and looking to bring correction, not win the battle or bludgeon their brains. I blush to think how I have been to so many over the years. Harsh with those in the Church over issues like the doctrines of grace, and harsh with those outside, like Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the like.
Lastly, we are to view these folks as certain way. A way which provokes compassion from our own hearts, rather than rancor. We are to treat them as those who are “captured” by the devil, “to do his will.” Can there be anything more pitiful in all the world than one caught in the snare of the devil? This is not a time for bombast, but beseeching prayer. Not a time for verbal floggings, but pleading and entreaty. To speak the truth clearly, gently, and lovingly – with an eye toward their liberation.
Lord, make us such a people.