2 Timothy 2:24-26 (ESV) And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, (25) correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, (26) and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 (TM) God's servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, (25) working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, (26) enabling them to escape the Devil's trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his (the devil)errands.
As a teacher, Timothy helped those who were confused about the truth. Paul's advice to Timothy, and to all who teach God's truth, is to be kind and gentle, patiently and courteously explaining the truth. Good teaching never promotes quarrels or foolish arguments. Whether you are teaching Sunday school, leading a Bible study, or preaching in church, remember to listen to people's questions and treat them respectfully, while avoiding foolish debates. If you do this, those who oppose you may be more willing to hear what you have to say and perhaps turn from their error.
Paul makes it clear that we are to do our absolute BEST to try and get along with everyone:
Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Paul in the same book also says there are times that you will not be able to live peacefully with some people, and gives instructions on what to do:
Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (18) For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
According to Paul, some people will selfishly try to cause problems among their peers. They are to be "marked" (KJV) as someone to avoid, and to not give an ear to them. In these last days, the enemy is working hard using whomever he can, to attempt to disrupt, divide, and destroy God's kingdom and His church. We must be aware of this!
I received an email devotion this morning at 4:45 am from Rick Renner's ministry delving deeper into today's verse. I would like to share this article with you in its entirety. It is a little lengthy, but it is a powerful warning from the Holy Spirit to all of us:
Every once and a while in the local church, someone gets so bent out of shape and upset with the church leadership that he behaves in a way that is shocking to everyone. Often this person has served faithfully in the past; yet suddenly he becomes a raging torrent - accusing the pastor, getting upset with the pastoral staff, and trying to stir up as much trouble as possible. The amazing thing is that this person is usually blind to how ugly and ungodly his behavior really is. Often the person even thinks he's doing the will of God by pointing out the flaws of the church leadership!
Timothy was having similar troubles with several people in his own congregation. Paul referred to this predicament when he wrote that some people in his church were "taken captive by him [the devil] at his will" (2 Timothy 2:26).
The words "taken captive" are from the Greek word zoogreo, which means to take an animal alive. It is the picture of putting an animal in a cage or behind bars at the zoo. This means people who are behaving this way are themselves victims - somehow caught and trapped by the devil, caged in resentment or bitterness that drives them to act in a fashion that is inconsistent with who they really are!
When Paul says "taken captive by him [the devil] at his will,"
it could be better rendered:
"who are taken captive by him [the devil] to carry out the devil's will."
Here we see a picture of a believer whose emotions the devil has manipulated until the person himself becomes the source of strife, discord, and subversion in the church, all the while thinking that he is doing the will of God. This is a deceived believer, captured by the enemy and now working for the devil to disrupt the local church!
Offense is usually the entry point the devil uses to seduce a believer into this behavior. And it's amazing just how quickly a dart of offense from the enemy can be thrown into a person's heart. Equally amazing is the speed in which just one of his evil darts can change that person's perspective of someone he used to honor and respect! In a matter of seconds, his entire view of that other person can become adversely affected.
Like the dripping of water, the devil begins to repeatedly strike a person's mind with accusations against the one who was once so revered. Let's say the one accused is the person's pastor. The enemy might pound that person's mind with false allegations such as these:
"He is so arrogant and proud!" "If other people saw what you see, no one would attend this church." "He doesn't appreciate you." "He doesn't deserve to have you serve on his staff. Leave him!" "The people in this city need a pastor who really loves them." "It's time for you to leave him and go start your own church!"
Do I really think that person intended to hurt me? Wouldn't it be better to forgive that person and preserve our relationship that has taken so long to build? Is what happened really so serious, or am I blowing the whole incident out of proportion? Have I ever been guilty of doing the same thing to someone else?
I have discovered from my own experience through the years that the devil is constantly seeking opportune moments to wedge bad feelings between people. He is a master at embellishing real or imagined offenses until they become inflated and larger than life. And he knows just when to "sock it to you"!
So slow down, calm down, and give yourself a little time to think and pray before you start accusing someone. It would be a good idea to find a friend who will be honest with you. Ask that friend to tell you the truth about what you are feeling and about how you are behaving. A good dose of honesty from a truthful friend might be exactly what you need to wake you up to what the devil is trying to do in you and through you!
Lord, I never want the devil to take me captive to do his will in my church or place of employment. He is an accuser, so if I am tempted to accuse and slander, it means that the devil is trying to work through me. Give me the ability to recognize this strategy of the enemy as soon as it starts, and to put on the brakes before I get so embroiled in a conflict that I can't see or think correctly. Holy Spirit, You are the Spirit of Truth, so please enable me to both see and to hear the truth about myself, because I want to stay free! In Jesus name, amen!"