2 Tim. 2:23-26
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
He was a brand new baby Christian with a fire in his belly for justice and righteousness. The problem is that he had no control over his firepower. There was no containing his hatred of evil, and this would manifest at inopportune times and in inopportune ways. Whenever he heard someone sharing an opinion in support of sin, he could not simply listen. He felt an urgency to join the conversation and win over converts. Unfortunately, the strategy would lead to arguments and further distance between him and the people he was trying to teach and reach. He came off as a know-it-all who did not even attempt to understand his opponents’ positions. He might have been able to win them over with kindness and compassion, but he ended up driving them away with abrasion and offense.
Our goal in evangelism is to be effective, whether we are trying to reach a stadium full of people or one single person. We are warned against conversations that breed argument and controversy because they produce no fruit. I know that my well-thought-out and logical reasoning is not what will convict a sinner of his sin. Debating morality gets us nowhere when we do not share the same moral standards with our audience. Our job is to speak truth and correction with patience and gentleness. Once we do that, it is for the Lord to draw them near and his Spirit to bring conviction. Today’s scripture tells us that is the hope, that God would grant them repentance. We do not convert; He converts. We do not save; He saves. We are merely to lay the groundwork with compassion and love.
I gave up long ago trying to convince people that Jesus is who He says He is. I just speak the truth and let it do a work in them. I realize that I am neither the convictor nor the converter but just a conduit. It is my job to share God’s truth with others, but I am not a salesman looking to fill my quota. I have to be careful that I do not alienate my opponents because of my attitude or approach. It is one thing for people to take offense and walk away because they reject the truth, but it is quite another thing for them to turn their backs on us because of our unpleasantness. Father, make us a people who share your truth with compassion and patience, careful to love our enemies as You loved us when we were enemies of yours.