Friday, October 08, 2010


TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Timothy 2:14-26

TO CHEW ON: "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient." 2 Timothy 2:24

One of the things the internet has done is encourage quarrelsomeness — an attitude that Paul contrasts with gentleness in this letter to novice pastor Timothy. Read the comments on any controversial news story, blog post or YouTube video and you're almost guaranteed to find one or more chippy response, seemingly crafted to start an argument. As soon as someone takes the bait, the fight is on.

The word gentle: (adjective) means kindly, amiable, mild, versus severe, rough or violent; easily handled or managed; polite. "Gentle is a reference especially to disposition and behaviour, and often suggests a deliberate or voluntary kindness or forbearance in dealing with others" (

I like that: "a deliberate or voluntary kindness or forbearance." It suggests that gentle is a way we decide to be, even though it may not come naturally.

A quick study of the use of the words gentle and gentleness in the Bible brings out a variety of observations:

1. God is gentle with us. Isaiah 40:11 pictures Him leading us like a shepherd leads his flock — stating explicitly that He "gently leads those with young."

2. "Gentle" is the way we treat the young and vulnerable.
- Jesus treated children gently (Mark 10:16).
- Paul says, "we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children" (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

3. Paul in his instructions to novice leaders underlines the importance of gentleness (Titus 3:21; 1 Timothy 3:3 and our focus verse today).

4. James includes gentleness in his list of qualities that those with heavenly wisdom possess (James 3:17).

5. God's gentleness helps us realize our potential (2 Samuel 22:36, Psalm 18:35).

It's easy to be swept into our society's admiration for wittiness. Who hasn't been tempted to respond to things with which one disagrees with a clever put-down, sarcasm, a strident tone. But such ungentle, quarrel-provoking attitudes and are not God's way.

However, Paul, in advising Timothy, doesn't tell him to be a doormat and accept false teaching in the interests of showing gentleness. The challenge for him and us continues to be to contend for truth, but with patience, humility and gentleness.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to choose gentleness, especially when I'm provoked, irritated, don't agree, challenged, and feel I need to prove that I'm right. Amen.

MORE: John Maxwell, on Gentleness

"I want to have that gentleness of spirit where somehow when people are around me, it gets them off themselves and what they want, and begins to refocus them upon God and who he is. I would like it to be said about me like it was about my pop. Some day I would like someone to say, "You know, I was around John for a while, and I just felt like I was in the presence of God."

— John Maxwell, at the end of the sermon "Fruit That is Never Out of Season: Gentleness."

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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