How often do you face opponents? How do you approach an opponent? Do you look to annihilate them? Does it depend on what kind of opposition it is? Do you know there is instruction provided for handling opponents?
As we go through life, especially as we make our following of Jesus known, we will face people who oppose us. They will attempt to trip us up, knock us down, make us look like a fool, and generally thwart our plans.
There are people in this world that want nothing to do with religion. Of course, that is part of the problem. They have a bad attitude toward organized religion, which has given God a bad reputation in some cases. Our instruction from the Bible is not to convince someone to follow an organized religion, but to follow Jesus Christ. As we face people who don’t want to talk about church, we should not be offended, rather we should talk about Jesus. Notice the small “c” rather than the capital “C” in that sentence. The capital “C” Church is Christ’s Church, which is His body of believers who follow His commands, not simply man’s tradition.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy is to gently approach the person who opposes God. I can imagine this being like approaching a horse that has gotten tangled in barbed wire. You must keep the horse calm, talking to it in a soothing voice. Gently untangling the wire one strand at a time. You can’t rush in expecting to release the horse in just a few moments. It takes time. You must assess the situation, identify all the tangles, develop a plan to remove them one at a time, all while keeping the horse calm knowing it will continue to try to get up from time-to-time.
Untangling the resistance of a person who opposes God is not a fast process. It may require us to ask many questions over several conversations before we can begin to address the tangles. We must be patient and understanding. We must keep our goal of bringing them to Jesus, saving them from destruction in the forefront of our mind. We will likely get frustrated and need to take a break while praying God grants us patience and wisdom to continue untangling the arguments offered by the person.
Chipping away at arguments can seem to like pounding our head against a brick wall. Might I suggest looking at it more like being a sculpture. We chip away one small piece at a time with the goal of creating a masterpiece. God does the same with us and He will guide us as we assist Him in doing the same with someone else. Once we have freed the person from the devil’s trap, we will experience a joy we have never felt before.
I pray we all approach those who oppose God with gentleness. I pray we ask God to open our eyes to see the tangles the person is dealing with. I pray each one of us will be patient and keep our goal in mind. Be patient with opponents. Be gentle with opponents. Ask God for guidance. Ask God for wisdom. Trust God to lead you.
2 Timothy 2:25-26 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.