By: Eli Ayala
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in 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.”
(2 Timothy 2:24-26)
When doing apologetics, one typically thinks of arguing with an adherent to some form of atheism, skepticism, or cult. While it can involve this to be sure, the idea of “arguing” needs to be distinguished from the notion of quarreling. When an apologist engages in “argument” he is basically providing reasons and defenses for what he believes. This form of “arguing” is very different than the idea of being argumentative or quarrelsome.
To be quarrelsome carries with it the negative connotation of an “ill-natured readiness to fight without good cause.” Another word for this would be pugnacious. To be pugnacious is to be “eager or quick to argue, or fight.” This should not characterize the apologist who would represent Christ in his defense of the faith.
Kindness and an ability to teach is what should characterize the believer. When we are standing upon the truth, there is simply no reason to get aggressive and disrespectful with those whom we are sharing the faith with. Even when our opponents display aggression and disrespect towards us, we should not return the favor.
Remember, our apologetic does not simply involve the intellectual content of our message and arguments, but it involves our conduct as well. We defend the faith both with our arguments and our actions. Our actions reflect the reality of Christ in our lives. To become argumentative and pugnacious runs counter to our claim that Jesus has transformed our lives.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 provides us with an important spiritual truth that the unbeliever is held “captive to the devil to do his will.” It is vital to recognize that those with whom we are sharing and defending the faith with are “spiritually blinded.” What they need is a work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, “removing their heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Are you getting frustrated with your unbelieving friend? Are you tempted to explode on them and unleash your anger upon those who launch attacks upon the Lord that you love? Learn to be gentle and patient with them knowing that you are but a tool in the hand of Lord and that it is he who ultimately “grants faith” (Philippians 1:29) and “repentance” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
Stand firm on the truth and be faithful in your task of planting seeds knowing full well that ultimately it is the Lord who produces the growth.