“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.”
II Timothy 2:24-26
Ours is a S.A.R. mission (Search-and-Rescue).
Have you ever noticed in a debate that the one who’s talking/yelling the loudest usually has the weakest argument? And, even if that person does have the more valid position, the fact remains that you can’t convince someone whose mind is made up—especially when they’ve been “taken captive by the devil at his will.”
We should never forget “the natural man (the human/carnal/Adamic mind) receives not the things of the Spirit of God—for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). Likewise, a lost person’s mind has been “blinded by the god of this world, preventing the light of the glorious Gospel from shining unto them” (II Cor. 4:4).
Thus, it’s foolish for us to try to argue or debate someone into Heaven.
It just won’t work.
Instead, much better is to “not strive (Grk. ‘machomai’—‘to war against, quarrel, dispute, fight, etc.’), but be gentle (Grk. ‘epios’—‘affable, mild, kind, etc.’) unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness (Grk. ‘prautes’—‘humility, mildness, gentleness, etc.’) instructing those who oppose (Grk. ‘antidiatithemai’—‘to set one’s self opposite of, disputation, etc.’) themselves.”
Or, another way to put it, “You can grow a lot more crops with sunshine and rain than you can thunder in lightning” or “You can attract a lot more flies with honey than you can vinegar” (or something like that).
Oh, dear Pilgrim, many there are whose arrogant attitude these days is “I’m my own authority. My mind is made up—don’t confuse me with the facts.”
This is especially so in the realm of religion.
How many battles have been fought and lives lost in the name of “god” or religious convictions—i.e., “I’m right and you’re wrong” and “My god/belief’s better than yours.”
That’s why it’s important for us to be “stepping-stone” servants, not “stumbling blocks.” Anyone can build a wall; it takes great patient and love to build a bridge.
Remember: There comes a point where no one but God can bring a person to repentance (v.25b; cf. Heb. 6:6). Confrontation will only lead to a further hardening of the heart and stiffening of the neck; therefore, we must plead with those who’ll listen. . .pray for those who won’t. . .and continually hope for the days when they’ll “acknowledge the truth and recover themselves (Grk. ‘ananepho’—‘become sober again, regain one’s senses, etc.’) out of the snare of the devil” like the prodigal son, who “came to himself, arose and went to the father” (Lk. 15:11-24). May it happen before it’s eternally too late.