I am taking an in depth look at 2 Timothy 2:20-26. This week I am going to focus on verse 25.
Last time I looked at verse 24 and we saw a number of specific commands with regards to the Lord's bondservant. You can see that post here. I explained that a bondservant is one who is sold out to Christ and calls Him Lord and Master. It is this bondservant that Paul continues to address in this next verse. In verse 24 Paul explains that Christ's bondservant is to not be quarrelsome, kind to all, able to teach and patient when wronged. Now we see in verse 25 the main emphasis is on the characteristic of gentleness. Let's define that word.
According to Webster's online dictionary the word gentleness can be define in these ways: belonging to a family of high social station; chivalrous; honorable or distinguished; kind or amiable; docile; free from harshness, sternness or violence; soft or delicate; moderate.
This verse speaks to the idea of correction, but correction done with gentleness. Think about how you as a parent correct your children. I, unfortunately, was a yeller. I disciplined out of anger, not love and gentleness. I honestly believe, looking back, I did more to harden my children's hearts towards God, rather than encouraging them to desire a relationship with Him. But rather than spend my time being sad and discouraged, I decided that I would use my experiences to try to teach others, there is a better way. That is the way of gentleness.
The verse says, "with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition,". Before I go further down this road, let me show you a few other scriptures related to gentleness.
Gentleness makes us great? Huh. Who would have thought that?
Gentleness is not something we conjure up ourselves, it is a fruit of His Spirit.
It is something we are to pursue. If it is the case that it is a fruit of His Spirit and we are to pursue it, then we ought to be regularly in contact with the Spirit through study of God's word and prayer.
Gentleness is capable of changing a situation.
I wish I would have really understood how this idea of gentleness works. When gentleness is used in a situation where correction is involved I believe it will result in a quicker and smoother resolution to the conflict. Have you ever been in a situation where you are confronted by someone who is very angry. Once in a while in my work as a retailer, a customer will be upset and angry about how a transaction was handled, the price of books or a communication problem. It is easy to let things escalate and get out of hand. However, I have found that responding in a soft, gentle way, and agreeing with the customer that their feelings are legitimate helps the situation to come back to a workable level.
Having to correct someone is hard. Being a parent is hard and correcting your children can be a difficult thing, especially when they are older. Using a gentle hand rather than a harsh one will help maintain your relationship with your child and keep the communication lines open. This is also true for managers with their employees and people in the service industry with their customers.
Looking at the rest of the verse we see that our ability to be gentle has a purpose in God's greater plan. That is, our use of gentleness may actually help to lead a person to the repentance which leads to knowledge of the truth. When correction happens in an environment where a person feels comfortable and valued, there is a better chance that a person will listen to further instruction and advice from the same person. When a child feels loved and cared for, even when a parent disciplines him or her, the child will feel comfortable listening to their parents leading and instruction.
We know ultimately, God is the one who draws people to Himself, but our ability to be gentle as we go through life, might provide an environment where God's Spirit will bring understanding and revelation.