Tuesday, 10 April 2018
…in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 2 Timothy 2:25
Paul’s words of exhortation to “the servant of the Lord” continue on. He just said that the minister “must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient…” Now in the same thought he says, “in humility correcting those who are in opposition.” This is obvious. The minister is not to be arrogant as he corrects those who have different views. However, this does not mean he cannot be stern. There is a difference. He should be firm and resolute in his doctrine, never waffling. And yet, he can do this while remaining humble.
Further, he is (as noted in the commentary on verse 23) to not prolong his correction of those who are divisive. That is noted in Titus –
“Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.” Titus 3:10, 11
One can cut off a divisive person while being humble. There should be no reason to arrogantly attack such a person. A few choice words of dismissal should be carefully spoken, and the door is to be shut on him as he departs. Under normal circumstances, however, the words of humble correction to those who are in opposition are intended for a specific reason. That reason is, “if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.”
The sense here is that if one argues his point in an arrogant manner, the one in opposition will normally double down on his views, simply because of the attitude displayed toward him. On the other hand, if the minister speaks firmly, but with humility, the one who is incorrect may take the time to evaluate his stand and repent of his incorrect doctrine. This will lead him to a knowledge of what is true.
An example for consideration would be that dreaded knock on the door by a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses. John warns about greeting such a person in his second epistle. There he says, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John -10, -11). Understanding this, you still need to answer the door. If you do so by saying, “You guys are a couple of heretics and you need to repent or be cast into hell,” there will probably not be any hope of them changing their mind.
However, if you address them with, “You don’t carry the proper doctrine of Jesus Christ, and so I can neither greet you, nor welcome you into my home, but I will show you where you are wrong here at the doorway if you wish,” then you might have a chance of showing them the error of their way. In such a meeting, God – through His word – may give their hearts repentance and a knowledge of the truth.
Life application: There is a right way to handle disagreements in doctrine, and then there is a wrong way. It is not possible to guess how each disagreement will pan out, and so the minister needs to keep a calm and humble attitude towards all. However, for those who become divisive, they need to be given one more chance to not be argumentative, and then they need to be excused. There is no point in arguing back and forth. It solves nothing, and it eventually makes both look foolish.
Heavenly Father, with so many disagreements on matters of biblical doctrine, the church has divided and redivided countless times. Despite the divisions, for those churches that hold to the core doctrines of the faith, it is wise and proper to not be arrogant with those in other denominations. Only when core doctrines are departed from should we consider totally cutting off fellowship. Give us wisdom concerning when we should make such a decision final. Help us in this Lord. This is Your church, and so grant us wisdom when dealing with others in it. Amen.