24 February 2009

Gentleness

I am in the Pastorals again (1-2 Tim, Titus), which for me are the most personally precious section of Scripture in this season of life as a young male preparing for what Timothy and Titus were doing when Paul wrote to them. What if the Apostle wrote me a letter in February 2009? I don't have to wonder. These three letters are as close as anything in the Bible to what he would have said.

What is striking me is the repeated emphasis on the tongue. Paul won't leave it alone. One of the dimensions of the critical importance of using our mouths in a life-giving rather than a life-sucking way is to be gentle.

23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. --2 Tim 2:23-25

Is it me or do we not think about this much, hear about it much? I would like to think about it more and cultivate more gentleness in the way I use words. When discussing the Bible or theology in a doctoral seminar, or with a stranger at Starbucks, or with a new believing friend who thinks differently, it is easy to confuse passion for the truth with passion for myself, the latter of which is far more common yet which always feels like the former. One way forward, straight from the Apostle, the same man who wrote Gal 1 and 2 Cor 10-13: cultivate gentleness.

3 comments:

Eric said...

Dane - Wow, this is a great post. I was actually going to do exactly this post for my own blog, but you beat me to it! The last time I read the pastorals, like 4-5 times Paul describes being gentle, easy people - the sort of people that others have nothing to fear from.

And yes, I think there's a kind of sickness in our churches in which we don't know how to handle disagreement and controversy: we get worked up about the wrong things, and even when there is a legitimate controversy, we attack each other and hurt each other.

Ray Ortlund said...

Let me add my agreement here as well. A lack of self-awareness in this area can wreak havoc on others, but all the while mentally justified as somehow in the service of God. Very important matter. Thanks.

Hauswife said...

Dane, I read this the other day and it has stuck to my ribs. I agree wholeheartedly that there is very little room in our modern Church to disagree and discuss hard issues with lovingkindness and respect for others. Our tongues (and attitudes and hearts) get away from us. Gentleness is what I want for my own heart. Thanks.