2Timothy 2:25-26 “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will”.
In this passage of Scripture, we are told that a useful servant will nurture a humble spirit. Timothy is instructed to correct those who are in opposition with gentleness. This is the opposite of what the media presents to us as influential. To be influential in fantasy land, you are to be the tough, quiet, independent loner. But our Lord says you are to be gentle, actually more than gentle. To be gentle is to be meek. In the ancient Greek world, the word “gentleness” was used of horses that were broken for riding. As such, the picture the word gentle paints shows a particular kind of training, where special care was given to bring the animal’s will into submission to the rider, without breaking its energetic and lively spirit.
Gentleness or meekness, is a strong quality. In today’s vocabulary, meekness carries the idea of wimpiness. But this biblical term has no relation to weakness. Rather, it denotes power under willing control. Like a nurse dealing with difficult children, or a teacher dealing with a rebellious student, the useful Christian is meek but strong, he or she is gentle yet firm. This exact usage of gentleness is used only here and also in 1 Thessalonians 2:7, which gives one a picture of what gentleness does. It says: “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children”. Beloved, the useful servant of the Lord will be affable, easy to speak to, approachable in his or her demeanour, not irritable, intolerant, or scornful, not even toward those who err. Thus, this meekness is a massive strength of character under control.
Verse 25 says: “With gentleness” which means in order to impact others, you need to show humility, mildness, even-temperedness as well as consideration. Of course our Lord is the supreme example. Christ, the perfect God-man is meek. In Matthew 11:29, the Lord Jesus says: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. Evidently, Matthew himself quotes a prophecy of Christ in 21:5 that says: “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey”.
Although Jesus was God incarnate, and at any moment could have destroyed His enemies with a word or as Matthew 26:53 states, Christ had at His disposal “more than twelve legions of angels”. Rather, Christ chose to submit to every indignity, because that was His Father’s will for Him in His incarnation.
Isaiah 42:3 says of God’s perfect Servant that “a bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish“. A bruised reed represents something that was very delicate, reminding us that the Lord Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy because He dealt gently with everyone. Think of how kind Christ was to the woman at the well, to Martha and Mary, to His disciples, and to Pilate. The servant of the Lord must cultivate this kind of gentleness. As such, he or she must not be harsh.
At the same time, beloved, the Lord never let His enemies get away with their terrible attitudes and scandalous accusations. They were often malicious, and Christ rebuked their insolence, but He did so calmly and rationally. He never ridiculed them or reviled them. He answered their loaded questions honestly and fearlessly. He boldly taught them truth, but He did so always while self-controlled and polite. The useful servant should seek to do the same embodying truth and grace.
The fruitful, influential servant of Jesus, who has great strength of conviction, who may have leadership authority in the church, willingly expresses his or her convictions, even exercises his or her authority, in a spirit of gentleness. The truly meek person is submissive as a matter of choice, because he or she wants to obey his or her Master and grow to become like Him. The kind of attitude God can use is that of a gentle servant. For that matter, a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, and be able to teach, be patient, and in humility he or she should correct those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance. He or she should do so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all. We should know that the great men of our world are not usually thought of as servants nor as gentle. Yet in the kingdom of God, greatness is marked by being a servant of the Lord and by being gentle to all. Paul’s meaning is that gentleness should be shown even to those who least deserve it, and even if at first there is no apparent hope of progress, still the challenge must be accepted. A servant of the Lord must exhibit these qualities. When Paul wrote to Timothy about a servant of the Lord, he told him about some of the basic characteristics of a godly pastor. On his part, Timothy must not quarrel but be gentle to all. It was not his job as a pastor to pick fights and to look for conflict. Some men only feel energized and motivated if they have an argument. However, Timothy (and every pastor) should be of a different sort. Timothy must be able to teach. With the great emphasis Paul placed on God’s Word, a pastor who is not able to teach is like a surgeon who cannot use a scalpel. As such, Timothy must be patient because God’s work often takes time. Sometimes we can see why it takes so much time, sometimes we cannot, but God is not in a hurry, and wants us to learn how to patiently trust Him.
Timothy must be in humility correct those who are in opposition so that the gentleness and patience Timothy must have does not mean he is to never confront those who need to be confronted but that he must do it in humility. Paul specifically told Timothy how to correct these opposing ones to see if God perhaps will grant them repentance. They need to repent, and this repentance will never happen apart from a work of God in their heart. The idea is not, “Maybe God will or maybe God won’t grant them repentance. They need to know the truth, so that they may come to their senses. Anyone who fights against God is deceived and must come to their senses. Beloved, repentance flows as someone comes to the truth in this way.
To be a servant of the Lord, a vessel of honour for Him, we must be empty, clean, and available. If we refuse to empty ourselves, clean ourselves, and make ourselves available to the Lord, we will find ourselves captive to the devil in one sense or another.
Verse 25 says: “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth“. Beloved, the words: “If sometime”, or “If perhaps”, point out the difficulty of the case, as being nearly desperate or beyond hope. Paul therefore means that even towards the most unworthy we must exercise meekness; and although at first there may be no appearance of having gained advantage, still we must make the attempt. For the same reason he mentions that “God will grant it”. Since the conversion of a man is in the hand of God, who knows whether they who today appear to be unteachable shall be suddenly changed by the power of God, into other men? Thus, whoever shall consider that repentance is the gift and work of God, will cherish more earnest hope, and, encouraged by this confidence, will bestow more toil and exertion for the instruction of rebels. We should view it thus, that our duty is, to be employed in sowing and watering, and, while we do this, we must look for the increase from God.
The erring need to be brought to the knowledge of the truth. Beloved, we may learn from this what is the actual repentance of those who for a time were disobedient to God; for Paul declares that it begins with “the knowledge of the truth”. By this he means that the understanding of man is blinded, so long as it stands out fiercely against God and his doctrine. He mentions the importance of this trait, stating that “In your hearts honour 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” (1 Peter 3:15). Apologetics, or defending the Christian faith, involves both the ability to teach (2 Timothy 2:24) and an attitude of gentleness in instructing others.
As such, the goal of kindness, teaching, enduring evil, and correcting opponents with gentleness is the repentance of lost people. The goal of Christian knowledge and conversation is not to win an argument but to win souls to Christ. Those who watch their life and doctrine closely will find effective ministry among the unbelievers they serve.
Verse 26 says: “And that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will“. Beloved, the Devil’s attacks are often directed toward the mind. He seeks to make something false appear true. Those who hear the truth and repent “escape” from his snare. The type of snare Paul had in mind was likely the animal snares common in his time. These often involved rope or rocks that would fall onto an animal lured there by food for bait. Similarly, the devil tempts unbelievers with “bait” to keep them in his trap and away from the freedom which Christ brings.
Unbelievers are referred to here not as enemies, but as prisoners. An unbeliever has no spiritual power over the Devil and is therefore “captive” to him. He or she has no other option than to follow the Devil’s tricks unless God’s grace intervenes. Believers are to share the gospel and show kindness, knowing God can change people from death to life and provide eternal life to those who believe.
How can we be greatly used by God?
To be greatly used by God, we must separate ourselves from ungodly relationships. To be greatly used by God, we must flee evil passions. To be greatly used by God, we must pursue Godly character.
To be greatly used by God, we must pursue Godly relationships.
To be greatly used by God, we must become servants. Are you willing and ready to be used by God?