Many problems, divisions, and the alienation of segments of society have been caused by people teaching dogmatically, or with a lack of gentleness and patience. It is not our responsibility as Christians, whether or not someone else comes to know the truth of the Gospel message. Our mission is simply to SHARE the message and leave the results to God.
Several passages of scripture remind us that we are to have patience and gentleness when it comes to teaching God's Word. We are going to look at I Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-12; Galatians 6:1-2; I Timothy 3:3, and II Timothy 2:23-26. These four sections of scripture list many qualities, but one that is common to all is gentleness; it is listed in each one.
I find this to be rather significant in light of the attitude of many Christian leaders regarding social issues. Is it not possible to be uncompromising in one's beliefs but still be gentle? Gentleness does not mean that a person becomes tolerant, but it does mean that we are not to have a contentious spirit.(I Timothy 3:2-3)
Those of us who teach spiritual truth, whether by writing or speaking, must do so in a way that does not alienate those who we are trying to reach. We cannot change anyone, but God's Word can. Therefore, we should proclaim His truth in a patient and gentle spirit and leave the results to Him.
There are three ways to deliver God's truth in a spirit of gentleness.
II Timothy 2:25-26 is a reminder that all Bible teachers must take to heart, through gently correcting those who are in opposition, "God may grant them repentence leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snares of the devil..." The first path of gentleness is to let God do His work in the lives of those who hear.
The second element of gentleness is restoration, accompanied with "looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted." (Galatians 6:1-2)
Gentleness is expressed in treating others like members of your own family. I Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-12 uses the analogy of a nursing mother tenderly caring for her children, and a father imploring his children. I think the picture here is that gentleness means not shunning someone who opposes biblical teaching. This is, for sure, the most difficult to apply to the social issues of our day.
I Peter 3:15 says to "...always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." There's that word again.
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