The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome. 2 Timothy 2:24
I was on Facebook, arguing. Bad move. What made me think I was obligated to “correct” a stranger on a hot topic—especially a divisive one? The results were heated words, hurt feelings (on my part anyway), and a broken opportunity to witness well for Jesus. That’s the sum outcome of “internet anger.” It’s the term for the harsh words flung daily across the blogosphere. As one ethics expert explained, people wrongly conclude that rage “is how public ideas are talked about.”
Paul’s wise advice to Timothy gave the same caution. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone” (2 Timothy 2:23–24).
Paul’s good counsel, written to Timothy from a Roman prison, was sent to prepare the young pastor for teaching God’s truth. The apostle’s advice is just as timely for us today, especially when the conversation turns to our faith. “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (v. 25).
Speaking kindly to others is part of this challenge, but not just for pastors. For all who love God and seek to tell others about Him, may we speak His truth in love. With every word, the Holy Spirit will help us.
Why is it vital as a believer in Jesus to avoid arguing with others on the internet (and in other contexts)? When you’re led by the Holy Spirit, how does the tone of your comments—your heart—change?
Father God, when I’m speaking to others about Your truth—or other interests—indwell my heart and tongue with Your love.
Read Words Matter: Speaking with Wisdom in an Age of Outrage at DiscoverySeries.org/courses/words-matter.
In his second letter to young pastor Timothy, Paul uses some familiar words that are worth exploring a bit deeper. In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul encourages Timothy to “flee the evil desires of youth.” The word Paul uses for flee is pheuge, which means “escape” or “run away.” Paul is telling him to remove himself physically from the danger. In the moment of temptation, the best thing to do isn’t to fill ourselves with courage and rely on our willpower, but to run away. This word is also used in Paul’s first letter to Timothy (6:11) when he tells the young man to flee from the love of money. And we see it in Matthew 2:13, when the angel of the Lord tells Joseph to take the baby Jesus and Mary and escape to Egypt.