Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 1 September 20:
2 Timothy 2:24, 25 — “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”
Rather than quarreling, we are commanded to endure evil. Are you willing to do that? Rather than being quarrelsome, which is quite common today, we are called to be kind, patient and gentle, attributes which are rather uncommon. These latter attributes are fruits of the Spirit, evidence of the Spirit of God within you, your testimony to the transformational and freeing power of God in your life through Jesus Christ – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explains that the greatest attribute of a Christian is love, and love is “patient and kind… not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…. Love bears all things…. endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Paul says that speaking the truth without love or in an unloving way is just noise, meaningless and unprofitable. Also, when we quarrel with others, regardless how right we are, we are just being childish – “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16) “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4) Does Jesus call his ambassadors to break spirits? Of course not! Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) Paul said, “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ…. If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 6:1; see also Titus 3) James concludes, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
God doesn’t call us to break spirits, rather He calls us to tear down the strongholds of the world, the flesh, and the devil which keep people in bondage to their sin; and we tear them down, by speaking the truth on love, displaying the truth in love, and taking up our cross daily in Jesus’ Name for the sake of those who would persecute us in their sin –
– Luke 10:2-3 — And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
– Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
– Luke 23:34 — And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
– 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 — For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 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….
Specifically, the Bible also warns not to get in heated debates with others over faith issues –
– 1 Peter 3:15-16 — But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
– Titus 3:9, 10 — But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him….
– Romans 14:1 — As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
– Acts 19:9 — But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.
– Matthew 10:14 — And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
From Henry T. Blackaby: “There should be no quarrelsome Christians. The truth of God is within us; we need never be intimidated or frustrated by those who do not accept God’s truth. At times people may disagree with you regarding God’s Word. Perhaps they question the way you say He is leading you, or they may challenge your faith in God. At times like these it is never helpful to argue. You will never debate anyone into the kingdom of God. You will never persuade someone that God has spoken to you by out-arguing them! Only God can convince others of the veracity of His word to you. If you will allow God to vindicate you in His time, and in His way, a time will come when the wisdom of your choice will be evident (Luke 7:35). If you find yourself often quarreling with others, you need to ask God to clearly reveal your motives and to forgive you for your disobedience to His clear command. If your motivation for arguing comes from your desire to be right, or to be exonerated, or to gain the esteem of those listening to you, you are acting selfishly, and God will not honor you. God is not interested in how right you are. He is interested in how obedient you are. God’s command is not that you win arguments, but that you are kind and forgiving when others mistreat you. You bring God no honor by winning a dispute in His name, but you reflect a Christlike character when you demonstrate patience to those who mistreat you or misunderstand your motives. Arguing may never win people to your view, but loving them as Christ does will win you many friends over time!”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 September 20: Today, quarrel with no one, but be kind to everyone, particularly to those who offend you. (2 Tim 2:24, 25)