2 Timothy 2:24


1. Negatively. "The servant of the Lord must not strive." This does not mean that

(1) he is not to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1:4); but

(2) that he is not to fight about trifles, nor to argue with acerbity of temper, nor for mere victory. The "bond of peace" must be maintained in controversy.

2. Positively.

(1) "But be gentle unto all men;" cultivating a spirit of habitual conciliation, while using arguments of the greatest cogency.

(2) "Apt to teach;" showing capacity and disposition to instruct the ignorant and the obstinate.

(3) "Patient;" bearing with the infirmities of weak brethren, with the irritating oppositions of adversaries, and with the reproaches of evil men generally.

(4) "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" to the truth as it is in Jesus, thwarting or perverting the gospel. The minister must be ready to instruct such persons in a meek and humble spirit, because they may be ignorant, or ill-informed, or deeply prejudiced from the circumstances of their early training.

II. THE BENEFITS THAT WILL ACCRUE FROM SUCH METHODS OF INSTRUCTION. "If God peradventure will give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by the Lord's servant unto the will of God."

1. A meek and gentle address may bring such errorists to repent of their sin and accept the true doctrine of faith. It is possible to repel them by our harsh reproaches. We ought rather to show them the truth without passion, and enforce it with all the kindly urgency of true affection. The necessity of repentance in such a case marks the essentially sinful character of opposition to the truth.

2. The servant of the Lord may be the means of recovering out of error as well as sin.

(1) Error is the devil's snare as well as sin, for it leads downwards to sin. It acts like a stupefying drink.

(2) Some errorists awake out of their intellectual intoxication, if they are wisely dealt with, and open their eyes to the blessed truth of the gospel.

(3) The will of God once established in such hearts, as the guiding principle of life, completes the recovery from error. - T.C.

The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle.
It is noteworthy how, in these Pastoral Epistles — which contain, so to speak, the last general directions to believers in Jesus as to life, as well as doctrine of, perhaps, the greatest of the inspired teachers — so many careful suggestions are given for the guidance of Christians in all their relations with the great heathen world. Conciliation may be termed the key-note of these directions. St. Paul would press upon Timothy and his successors the great truth that it was the Master's will that the unnumbered people who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death should learn, by slow though sure degrees, how lovely and desirable a thing it was to be a Christian; should come at length to see clearly that Christ was, after all, the only lover and real friend of man.

(H. D. M. Spence, M. A.)

He must not be a fighter, quarreller; but meek, quiet, easy to be entreated: for such are fathers, nurses, surgeons, physicians. Oh, how much pity, tenderness of affection is required of them! Lambs, sucking babes, bones out of joints, stand in need of a gentle heart and finger to feed, nourish, and rightly to place them. To be fierce, cruel, outrageous, better befits a dog than a shepherd.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

The temper and deportment recommended by St. Paul in the text to those who undertake to serve God in the instruction of man, or in advancing any reformation, approve themselves to our sober judgment as best suited to the work in view, and alone conformable to the example and precepts of our blessed Saviour. But then we look back upon the history of the Church, which is in great part an history of ignorance and instruction, of corruptions and reformations, and we find that among the most prominent of the servants of the Lord, among the most remarkable leaders in religious progress, were those who, though apt to teach were also very apt to strive, and so far from being patterns of gentleness, patience and meekness, were rather remarkable for qualities of an opposite description, for rudeness, for hastiness, and for intemperance of language and action. We ask, whether, considering the task which these men assumed, the obstacles which they were obliged to contend with, and the success which rewarded their efforts, they were not, after all, the right kind of men for the work and for the time; whether their severe and even martial characteristics were not necessary to the accomplishment of their purpose; and whether a different kind of men, of more peaceful sentiments, and moderate designs and measures, would have made any head at all against the torrent of sin and error which they might endeavour to stem. We think of Luther, of Calvin. of Knox — fiery, arbitrary, and often abusive men. But were they more so than they ought to have been? Here is the gospel rule on the one side, and here, on the other, are these impressive facts. Now, in few of these facts, must not the gospel rule admit of exception and modification? If this has at any time been my opinion, longer reflection has induced me to renounce it; and I am now convinced that truth never requires the sacrifice of love, that wrath and violence are never necessary to reforms, that the cause of Christianity is never really advanced by the operations of an unchristian spirit. Do i then undertake to say, that what we have been accustomed to call reformations are not reformations, and that the leaders of them do not deserve the name of reformers, which has so long been awarded them? I say no such thing. But I do venture to affirm, that these reformations would have been attended with less suffering and evil, and would have been more extensive than they were, if the reformers had manifested more of the Christian spirit than they did. I would attribute the success of those reformers whom I have already named, such as it was, and it surely was great, not to their failings but to their excellences, not to their vices but their virtues. They possessed in great perfection the energetic virtues: through the force of these virtues, and the force of truth, they succeeded as they did. Their bitterness, their fierceness, did not promote, but on the contrary impeded, the progress of the truths for which they contended. A Christian reform cannot be caused or aided by a spirit which the law of Christ expressly and utterly condemns. The real causes which bring it about are of another character.

1. There is, in the first place, the obviousness of the corruptions which the reformer would abolish, and which the pure and honest portion of society, when their eyes are opened, will unite in abolishing.

2. There is, in the second place, the equal obviousness of some good, which the reformer distinctly presents as an end, and which the well-disposed will assist him to establish.

3. There is, in the third place, the real virtue which the reformer manifests in the exhibition and accomplishment of his purpose.

4. In the fourth place, there is the vast amount of noble enthusiasm which is excited by the prospect of enormous corruptions on the one hand, and of great improvements and blessings on the other, and which enlists itself on the reformer's side.

5. And, to go no further in the enumeration, there is the help of God, which is always bestowed upon those who, with whatever imperfections, are labouring to accomplish a high and worthy object. I find that my opinion is supported by an authority which, on such a subject, is entitled to more than common weight. "I know," says the reformer John Wesley, speaking of the reformer John Knox, and of that fierce and barbarous spirit of his followers, which demolished the finest architecture of Scotland, "I know it is commonly said, the work to be done needed such a spirit. Not so; the work of God does not, cannot need the work of the devil to forward it. And a calm, even spirit goes through rough work far better than a furious one. Although, therefore, God did use at the time of the Reformation. sour, overbearing, passionate men, yet He did not use them because they were such, bat notwithstanding they were so. And there is no doubt He would have used them much more, had they been of a humbler and milder spirit." Instances, in sufficient number, might be mentioned beside that of Wesley, of men who, charged with an important message, and meeting with rude and cruel opposition in delivering it, have still delivered it with a kind and loving, and withal a steady voice, and who have been heard and obeyed at last, when opposers grew ashamed of their own ferocity, and sank into quietness from the want of exasperation. But if there were no such instances, I see not what is to forbid our pointing to the Great Redeemer, and requiring that all who work in His name should work with His spirit; and moreover asserting that whatever contradictions of this spirit are manifested by them are to be counted, not among their excellences, nor among qualities which are necessary to their success, but among their defects, and defects which their cause, if a Christian cause, might easily have spared.

(F. W. P. Greenwood, D. D.)

It is a suggestive fact that the dove, which is regarded as the emblem of gentleness, has no gall-bladder.

(H. O. Mackey.)

St. Anselm was a monk in the Abbey of Bec, in Normandy, and upon 's removal, became his successor as director. No teacher ever threw a greater spirit of love into his toil. "Force your scholars to improve?" he burst out to another teacher who relied on blows and compulsion. "Did you ever see a craftsman fashion a fair image out of a golden plate by blows alone? Does he not now gently press it and strike it with his tools; now with wise art, yet more gently raise and shape it. What do your scholars turn into under this ceaseless beating?" "They turn only brutal," was the reply. "You have bad luck," was the keen answer, "in a training that only turns men into beasts." The worst natures softened before this tenderness and patience. Even the Conqueror, so harsh and terrible to others, became another man, generous and easy of speech, with Anselm.

(H. O. Mackey.)

One feature of Christ's teaching which St. Matthew notices, is the quietness in dealing with those by whom it was misunderstood. There was no fighting, no contention of words, no hot disputing, where it could be avoided, but retirement. So we are told that when the Pharisees held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him, He withdrew Himself fulfilling, St. Matthew Sells us, the old words, "He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets." I must, however, draw your attention to yet one more feature, His teaching was positive, not negative. There was much in the religion of the day that was so small, contemptible, and even base, that it might have seemed right and wise to pull down first and then build. But He, by His actions and His words, was constantly justifying His express statement that He came not to destroy, but to fulfil. So far from fulminating against the dead formality of the temple worship, He tried to make it better by purging it and infusing fresh life into it. His life and words were a continual filling in with a new spirit all that was good and helpful. Where He could transform He would never discard. Could we catch something of His spirit by retiring from, instead of fighting with, determined enemies, by transforming instead of discarding, how helpful our service of man in this respect would be!

(Prof. G. H. S. Walpole.)

I remember to-day two masters I was under at school. One was a huge, burly fellow, with a sharp, unkind word, and a sharper punishment for every boy, big or little, who was guilty of an omission or a fault: and every lad, little or big in the school, hated him, and longed for the time when they would see him no more. The other was by no means a weakling, for he was a splendid fellow in the cricket-field; but he was as gentle as a child. And the roughest and wildest lads, who would have scorned to allow their faces to tell what they suffered under a cruel beating from the first, used to dread a quiet five minutes' talk with the second master, who in a sweet low voice always used to begin with "my dear boy." Few lads left the presence of that second master without having felt unable to repress the rising tears, and without a noble resolve to be better for the sake of the Christian gentleness with which the folly or the fault had been dealt with.

(J. Bowker.)

Kind words never blister the tongue or lips, and we never hear of any mental trouble arising from this quarter. Though they do not cost much, yet they accomplish much. They help one's own good nature and good will. Soft words soften our own soul; angry words are fuel to the flame of wrath, and make it burn more fiercely. Kind words make other people good-natured. Cold words freeze people, and hot words scorch them; and bitter words make them bitter, and wrathful words make them wrathful. There are such a number of other kinds of words, that we ought occasionally to make use of kind words. There are vain words, and idle words, and silly words, and hasty words, and empty words, and profane words, and boisterous words, and war-like words. But kind words soothe and comfort the hearer; they shame him out of his sour, morose, unkind feelings. We have not yet begun to use kind words in such abundance as they ought to be used.


If teachers could be convinced that every lesson in which a child, however it has increased its knowledge, has increased its dislike for knowledge, is a lesson worse than lost, then they would consider not only how subjects ought to be treated, but pupils. There are many who do great justice to their subjects, while they do great injustice to their pupils. The nature of the one is understood, but not the nature of the other.

(Sunday School Teacher.)

(see Wisdom 2:19.) — Endurance of malicious detraction is one of the victories of grace.

(H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

This is what the servant of God should really aim at being: the teacher rather than the controversialist — rather the patient endurer of wrong than the fomenter of dissentions and wordy strifes.

(H. D. M Spence, M. A.)

Antony, the hermit, heard praise of a certain brother; but when he tested him he found that he was impatient under injury. Quoth Antony, "Thou art like a house which has a gay porch, but is broken into by thieves through the back door."

(C. Kingsley.)

The oyster, when it is feeding, lies with its shell open a little way, so that the water may flow through it; and when any of the very little insects and animals on which it feeds comes floating in with the water, the oyster opens its mouth and swallows them. But it sometimes happens that things float in which the oyster does not want, and which it cannot swallow or eat. When it is lying quietly in the sunshine, and enjoying its meal, a little grain of sand may come inside the shell, so small that you and I could scarcely see it, but so hard and sharp, that if it gets under the oyster's soft, tender body, it would irritate and pain it. What does the oyster do? It has no hands to catch hold of it and throw it out. Well, it does not, as we should say, get into a passion, and knock itself about the shell; no, it lies quite still, and with some of that beautiful, white, smooth, glossy matter, with which it has lined the inside of its shell, it covers the sand all over, and so makes it smooth too. And more than that, when the oyster is caught, and its shell is opened, if one of these small round beads is found, it is taken out and called a pearl, and sometimes makes a very valuable and handsome ornament. So provocation should be the occasion of developing the pearl of patience.

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