Doing Right When Others Do Wrong
We all have times in our lives when others “do us wrong”. Or, we are involved in situations and circumstances when those we know are doing wrong to someone else. What do we do? If you’ve ever asked that question, the apostle Paul gives godly advice to Timothy that we can apply ourselves. In chapter 2 of 2 Timothy this is what Paul writes about dealing with those who are in opposition to us: 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
This is really good counsel for all of us. We are reminded to approach someone in humility, without anger or quarreling. We are reminded to be gentle, able to teach and patient. When we demonstrate humility, gentleness and patience, isn’t it more likely that the message we have to share will be received? We are then to correct in humility. Why? Because, I think, it is likely that we have made a similar mistake in our past or we could certainly make a similar mistake in the future. When others believe that we are looking down on them they are less likely to have a receiving spirit. Then Paul points out God’s role in all of this. God is the one who has to grant repentance. God is the one who needs to reveal truth to them. We are not able to do that. We are able to speak of God’s truth but we can’t make anyone “know” the truth. That is between them and God. To me, that relieves the pressure a little bit. God is not sitting on the edge of His throne biting His nails, anxiously hoping that you or I get it right when we are confronting someone. He is in charge. We are just “assistants” in the process.
Finally, Paul mentions that the devil plays a role here. Somewhere along the line the one who is in opposition to God is in allegiance with the devil. Paul uses the idea of a snare, a trap, and the one in the wrong being held captive. For me, as I read this, I am reminded that the one I’m arguing with has a greater problem than the “problem” at hand. The greater problem is being in the snare of the devil. That’s not an excuse for wrong behavior, but this truth helps me to know that the real conflict is not between me and him but between God and the devil…and if that’s the case then I know Who is the stronger of those two!
So, here in 2 Timothy God gives us some really good advice on how to do right when others do wrong, how to be involved in God’s process of bringing someone to change their mind and their course. We must count it a privilege to be a part of God’s redemptive process. We serve a great and gracious God!