• Tom Strode

Kindness and gentleness are friends of truth

It seems this cannot be repeated too often -- we can disagree with other Christians without demeaning them.

Once again, a Christian leader has spoken with a lack of grace in seeking to correct another saint. It's not the biblical view he sought to defend that is the problem. It was the disrespectful way he chose to express his opposition to the viewpoint of, in this case, a woman teacher.

This may not be anything new in the conservative Christian church. The problem has just become magnified on social media and in an evangelicalism that is populated by tribes seeking to assert they have a corner on the truth.

I came across a quote today from Sinclair Ferguson, a Scottish preacher and theologian, who said: "I sometimes wonder if this is a distinctively evangelical sin. Of course it is by no means exclusively so. But how commonplace it seems to be to hear a fellow Christian's name mentioned in some context or other, and the first words of response demean his [or her] reputation, belittle him [or her], and distance him [or her] from acceptance into the fellowship, although this is a brother [or sister] for whom Christ died!"

The apostle Paul paints a much different picture of a Christian leader in his second letter to Timothy.

"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will," Paul wrote in II Timothy 2:24-26.

Quarrelsomeness seems to be prized and praised too often in today's evangelicalism. Kindness and gentleness are not coveted among some Christian tribes. No, it is the snide takedown that gains the applause of too many in the church.

Into this corrosive climate, Paul urges pastors and other leaders -- and, we can add, all followers of Jesus -- to be kind, patient and gentle. With those traits seasoning our declaration of the truth, God may give those who oppose us repentance that leads to knowing the truth. And when disciples disagree over non-essentials, we should do so lovingly.

Oh may there be a revival of kindness and gentleness in Christ's church in our day.


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