How We Live Matters!

2 Timothy 2
20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

How we conduct ourselves among each other, other Christians, and out in the world among non-Christians, matters. It doesn’t matter because we have to earn God’s favor. It’s not that, but it matters; I want to be clear on that. If we are children of God, then we have this awesome place in His family. His love for us is genuine, real, and everlasting. If you are a Christian, your place in God’s family through Christ is secure. It is secure because He has made it so. He will not leave you, He will not forsake you. God does not quit on His children. He forgives, He blesses, He grants mercy and grace. He is the one and only perfect loving Father. I want to be clear here. He loves His children with an everlasting love.

But having said all that, He has given us instructions all throughout the New Testament about how we are to live as His children. How we live does not affect His love for us, but how we live matters. One reason it matters how we live is because of our witness to others. What do we portray to others about Christianity, about God, about being God’s child? What do we communicate to those around us about this faith that we profess?

We are here as God’s people to represent Him, and the question is are we representing Him well? Do our lives give an accurate picture of our faith, of our redemption, and of our God?

2 Corinthians 5
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Ephesians 6
19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

God has been very clear with us, as His children, as to how we are to be His ambassadors, how we are to conduct ourselves to represent Him on this earth, for the short time we have on this earth. His instructions to us – and this is important – His instructions to us are to us, and are not dependent on how other people treat us. And this is part of our challenge. As we look at 2 Timothy 2, verses 23-26, we need to see them in light of all of our relationships – the ones that may be pleasant and easy, and the ones that may be unpleasant and difficult. Because again, we are to live for Christ, we are to glorify Him, represent Him well in all that we do.

2 Timothy 2
23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

There are some conversations that we may need to just walk away from. Paul talks about conversation that we should have nothing to do with. Sometimes we feel compelled to always throw in our two cents, our opinions, when maybe we should just walk away. What are these conversations? Foolish, ignorant controversies. We are to have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies.

Now let’s remember the larger context of this book. The problem facing this church was false teachers spreading false doctrine. Foolish means to be mentally dull. It is to not think clearly about a topic of conversation. It can be to just sort of put your mind in neutral and fail to carefully think through things and be discerning. Ignorant is about being unlearned. You can see the danger here, that is of someone being mentally dull and ignorant concerning the topic at hand. That is a dangerous combination. If we are not being discerning and we are totally uninformed, then we are likely to fall for just about anything. We may be like what we read about in Ephesians 4:

Ephesians 4
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Controversies here means those things that are not based on truth and are speculative in nature. So you can picture a group of people whose minds are dull, who are ignorant of the topic at hand, talking about things that are not based on truth, that are just speculative. What a waste of time, what a dangerous waste of time. This is how many can be led astray, and many are. And where do these lead? Paul says they breed quarrels. That is arguments, fighting, dissension. This is how false religions are birthed.

Paul brings this type of thing up often. In Titus 3:9 he said, “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” And to show the seriousness of this matter, look at what he says in the very next verses:

Titus 3
10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

What is the remedy for this? The remedy would be to not put our minds in neutral, and to know God’s Word well, be a student of God’s Word, and not then fall for foolish ideas leading to controversy. And to know when to just walk away from, avoid such talk.

Do you know people who just want to argue about everything? They just want to get their point across even if it is just their opinion? Or people who want to put down everyone else’s ideas? People who always speak as if they are an expert when they are not. Well we don’t have to get sucked into their controversies, in fact we should avoid such controversies. We can be good ambassadors of our Lord by avoiding such things.

2 Timothy 2
24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.

Verse 23 flows right into verse 24 saying we, the Lord’s servants, must not be quarrelsome. Quarelsome is being contentious, just picking a fight. Don’t be that way, don’t just be stirring up things for the sake of sport or game or even harm.

You know, I think that verse 23 and this first phrase of verse 24 has much to do with pride and arrogance. Some people just want to be right, want to be heard, feel a need to convince everyone to see things their way. These will be contentious, trying to verbally bully others to their way of thinking. It is such an excercise of building up self rather than simply relying on truth from God and His Word. Some want to develop their own formulas for life, their own unique ideas, and to be well thought of as creative or intellectual rather than just acknowledging that God alone is all-wise and His ways are best, and so we repeat His words instead of force feeding our own ideas to others.

Don’t be quarrelsome. If we are, then let’s put that off and replace it with what Paul brings up next.

2 Timothy 2
must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.

Don’t be quarrelsome but be kind. Kind to whom? Here is the hard part: kind to everyone! Kind to our troublesome neighbor, your difficult boss, your unreasonable customer, your impossible sibling, the officer that pulls you over, the bill collector, the salesperson on the phone, the professor that just failed you – everyone. Be kind to those who are reasonable and those who are not.

Now, why would we not be kind to others? What tempts us to be unkind to others? Usually we are tempted to be unkind to people because we have decided that they don’t deserve our kindness, they have hurt us, have not considered our feelings, have ignored us, or maybe just acted in ways that we do not approve of. We think if someone has not been nice to us, then we have some kind of right to be unkind to them, right? In other words, we have been offended, and being offended we have a right to be unkind. Well, aren’t you glad that is not how Jesus operates?

Matthew 11
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Jesus chose gentleness, kindness. I don’t think you need a definition for kindness, we all know what it is. But do we choose to be kind to all? This goes back to the truth that we are ambassadors of Christ, and now we read that as ambassadors it is our place to be kind to all. That is one way we represent our Lord well.

Able to teach, what is this? It simply means able to communicate God’s Word to others. This is not a call to be super smart or a great orator, only to be able to communicate what God has communicated to us through His Word.

We are also to patiently endure evil. Now, if you have not felt the weight of conviction yet, maybe you will here! Your translation may read “patient when wronged.” Okay, what is our tendency when we are clearly wronged? Maybe to get back at someone, maybe to cut that person off, maybe to become angry or even bitter?
Here is what Jesus did, as we are told by Peter in 1 Peter 2, and just let this sink in for a moment. Christ after all is our example, right?

1 Peter 2
19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

How did Jesus remain patient when wronged? By continually entrusting Himself to the Father. That is entrusting everything, every circumstance, every act of evil against Him, to the Father who judges all things.

This is for us, we are to entrust ourselves, every part of our lives and circumstances, to God who will judge, and who will work all things together for our good.

2 Timothy 2
25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.

Sometimes correction is in order, and when we correct it is to be in gentleness. To correct is to give guidance to. We are to give guidance to others in a spirit of gentleness, communicate with gentleness. This is the same word that is sometimes translated meekness.

Jesus described Himself as being meek. In Matthew 11:29 He said, “for I am gentle [or meek] and lowly in heart.” Meekness is power under control; it is not weakness, but is being able to control oneself. Humility is a close concept to meekness. You may picture a grown man wrestling with his two-year-old son on the floor and letting the little boy pin him to the ground. The father could easily take the boy down, but he lets the little boy win. That is power under control, a superior power letting the other win.

Jesus of course had great power, He could have crushed any of His opponents, but that is not why He came. There was a greater good; He came to suffer and to die for my sins and yours. And so in order for Him to fulfill His mission, He chose meekness. We represent God well when we are gentle, when we are meek.

Now I want to close by looking at what can be some of the positive consequences if we faithfully represent Christ as His ambassadors by living these ways we have looked at this morning. Here is what we see:

2 Timothy 2
God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

You see, it matters how we live. Our lives are not just about us. What we do, how we live may be God’s means of bringing men and women to Himself. God may use our faithful behavior to play a role in another person’s repentance. He says they may even come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap!

You see, we may think that we must go after sinners with strong, even angry words, that we must go after the lost with a spirit of vengeance, that we must argue and quarrel with people until they see it our way. But God tells us differently. He says instead:

2 Timothy 2
23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

I pray that I will, and you will, embrace these truths, these words, and that we may, by God’s grace, live as we have been called. And that God will use us in some way to actually bring others into His Kingdom.