2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
When the apostle Paul wrote this letter to his young student Timothy, he taught him some profound truths that I often apply in my life. I suppose when Timothy received these instructions, he was about my age – a young man still developing his skills at evangelism, teaching and instructing.
Early in my Christian walk, I grabbed hold of a passage – let no man despise thy youth, but rather be an example in word, in conversation, in love, in spirit, and in faith. This was my mantra in the first years of my walk.
Now I'm focusing on being a servant able to teach. Paul's instruction is not to "strive" -- I hear him saying "be careful to teach with a proper spirit" and to avoid "trying to prove that you're right". I want to be sure that I'm not trying to force my perspective on someone, but rather instruct with meekness, gentleness, and patience.
One phrase in the verse says something about the effect of teaching in the right spirit-– "they recover themselves"! It's not our job to convince someone of the truth. We "contend earnestly for the faith" allowing the Holy Spirit to do the convincing, so that someone who is in error is free to repent based on God's conviction, and not my persuasiveness. So let's be sure we're leaving room for Him, teaching in a manner that Paul would be proud of.
We're all called as servants; so let's strive to be servants that would make our Master proud!