2 Timothy 2:24-25
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 the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.
This verse reminds us to be gentle when we correct or teach others. Sometimes we are faced with individuals who were raised differently than we were, think differently than we do, and act differently than we do. Despite our differences, it is crucial, especially as Christians, to treat everyone with respect and kindness. This includes friends, family members, the cashier at the market, the person that cuts you off in traffic…everyone.
Recently, I had a conversation with a co-worker who is a proud atheist. During our conversation, he referred to God in a similar context to Santa Claus. He poked fun at the idea of our God, stating He is a mythical creation, not real and not worthy of his time. Initially, I was offended by his remarks and was not sure how to respond. I immediately wanted to lash out in anger and defend my God with all that I had in me. Instead, I took a breath and found myself in prayer, asking God to give me strength and wisdom because my own personal convictions or points of view were causing me to react in a manner not as gentle as God might like me to be.
Instead of trying to win this discussion, I just shared my own personal stories that related to my beliefs about God. I spoke for myself, and about my own experiences. I didn’t over-generalize or speak on behalf of all Christians. I was honest.
It turns out his non-belief was primarily, although not entirely, based on earlier, less than favorable experiences with Christians. I focused on how we are all diverse and, as humans, we all make mistakes and fall short. In the end, I listened to this person outside of our religious preferences. I felt like the conversation ended well.
Did I change his salvation status or “win?” No. After we chatted, I added him to my prayer wall; I pray for his and his family’s salvation on a daily basis. When I interact with him, I do not always talk about God or salvation; instead, I treat him with kindness and gentleness. Perhaps one day his salvation status will change and I will get to witness that wonderful day. Until then, I will be kind. I will pray. I will be gentle.
Every believer has a high calling to extend Christ’s love unreservedly. To accomplish this, we must remember to be gentle, respectful, and honest.