There are times when we must “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3). But in doing so, we must never be ungracious or antagonistic. The 17th-century English Puritans were right when they said that faith can never be foisted on another person. Consent must be gained by gentle persuasion and reason.
Today’s Bible reading underscores that principle. Paul told Timothy that “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all” (2 Timothy 2:24). He wanted Timothy to be thoughtful and relevant in proclaiming the truth, not defensive. When people opposed the truth, he was to gently correct them in the hope that God would “grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil” (vv. 25-26).
What was true for a young leader like Timothy applies to all believers. Those who oppose us are not the enemy but victims of the enemy. They can be delivered, Paul insisted, but we are to speak the truth in love.
Truth without love is dogma that does not touch the heart. Love without truth is sentimentalism that does not challenge the will. When truth is spoken with love, God’s Spirit can use it to change another’s mind. – David Roper
To speak of the Savior in glowing terms,
To tell how He died in our place,
Will be unconvincing to those who hear
If we fail to show forth His grace. – D. J. De Haan
Truth spoken in love is hard to refuse.
- February 14, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread