2 Timothy 2:24
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.
The term “the servant of the Lord” here refers to the one who is called and appointed by the Lord to feed His flock through the preaching of His Word. Timothy, to whom the letter was written, has been ministering to the church in Ephesus. Timothy has to confront not only false teachers and disobedient members of the church, but also those who incite unprofitable arguments and disputes. So, the apostle Paul gave advice to Timothy on how to handle “foolish and unlearned questions” that would “gender strifes” in the church.
Timothy was reminded that as a servant of the Lord, he “must not strive”. The Greek word for “strive” (máchomai) is commonly used to denote fighting in a battle, or striving or disputing with words in a private quarrel. Not only here in this instance, but also on several other occasions, Paul emphasised that Christian leaders ought not to be quarrelsome. In 1 Timothy 3, while enumerating the qualifications for an elder, Paul wrote, “Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous” (v. 3). In Titus 1, a further list of the qualifications for an elder is given: he is to be “not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker” (v. 7). Every pastor, elder and teacher, being a servant of the Lord, is to be “gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient”.
Note that Paul is not averse to fighting against false doctrines. We must contend and fight for the truth that “was once (for all) delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). In Ephesians 6:12, Paul exhorts: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” In fighting against Satanic forces with the spiritual weapons (2 Corinthians 10:1-4), we must not end up quarrelling with opponents. True, in fighting for the truth, we uncompromisingly reject falsehood and sin, and boldly speak the truth. But we must be “gentle unto all men”. Let us take note that Paul says “unto all men”. We must be gentle even to those who oppose us! In the next verse, Paul tells us the reason for such gentle demeanour required of the preachers of the Word – “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25). Gentleness in demeanour is requisite to being “apt to teach” others.