And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.
— 2 Timothy 2:24
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are trying to help someone who isn’t listening or paying attention to what you are trying to tell him? Should that happen to you in the future, don’t allow yourself to get so angry that you lose your temper and say or do something you will later regret!
It’s frustrating to try to help someone who stubbornly sits across the table, peers at you in total defiance, and reacts to your counsel as if you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. But from time to time, everyone faces situations like this. Perhaps it happens when a parent tries to speak to his rebellious child; when an employer tries to bring correction to an employee; when a pastor speaks the truth that a church member doesn’t want to hear; or when someone tries to lovingly communicate his concern to a friend who he believes is making a mistake in his life.
As you begin the process of bringing correction into a person’s life, put yourself in his shoes. If you were the one sitting there, would it be easy or difficult for you to hear what is about to be said? Would you feel wonderful about receiving correction, or would you feel a little embarrassed?
If the person you are correcting acts closed or puts up a wall of defense at first, it may be that he’s just embarrassed or reacting out of insecurity. Therefore, don’t stop the conversation unless you can see that he’s definitely just being combative and is completely closed to your input. In order to discern the true situation, you need to be patient and slow in judging his reaction to your correction.
When Paul wrote and instructed Timothy how to bring correction into someone’s life, he stressed the need to be “patient” when giving correction. In Second Timothy 2:24, he wrote, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” The Greek word for “patient”” is aneksikakos. This is a compound of the words anechomai and kakos. The word anechomai means to endure patiently, to bear with, or to have a tolerant attitude toward someone or something. The word kakos is the Greek word for evil or for something that is bad.
When these two words are compounded into the word aneksikakos as they are in this verse, the new word portrays an attitude that is tolerant and that bears with a bad, depraved, or an evil response. Paul was telling us that when we attempt to bring correction into a person’s life and his response is wrong or even terrible, we are not to get all flared up about it! Getting upset won’t make the situation any better. Instead, we are to grab hold of the power of God, look that person in the eyes, and bear with him until he calms down and hears what we are saying. In other words, sometimes we just have to put up with a person’s reaction, whether it’s good or bad.
Because the word aneksikakos is used in this verse, Second Timothy 2:24 could be rendered:
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. That means you must put up with those who don’t act too thrilled when you sit down to correct or instruct them. You have to be patient and tolerantly bear with them and their reactions until they finally hear what you are trying to express to them.”
In Galatians 6:1, Paul warned us, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” When I am about to give correction, it has always been helpful for me to remember how difficult it might be to sit on the other side of the table and hear a superior correcting me. So before I correct someone, I first consider how I would want to be told if I had done something wrong, just as Paul suggested: “…considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Before you charge into a room to correct someone, first take some time to pray and really think about the best, the most peaceful, and the most positive way to speak these words of correction or even words of rebuke. Do it in the right spirit, and don’t permit yourself to get upset if you see a response that isn’t exactly what you had hoped for. Just hold tight, be calm, and bear with the person you’re talking to a little while as he adjusts to the idea of being corrected. If he ultimately refuses your correction and remains defiant, you may have to take a different route. But at least in the beginning, be patient with that person if he doesn’t respond the way you hoped.
This is exactly what the apostle Paul is talking about when he stresses that you must be “patient” when you bring correction into someone’s life. So why not ask the Holy Spirit today to help you become more temperate when people under your authority don’t respond exactly as you had wished? Be patient and believe that they will eventually come around!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I ask You to help me be kind and patient when it is essential for me to bring correction. Help me to not be offended if the person I’m trying to help doesn’t respond at first the way I wished he would have. Help me to put myself in that person’s shoes and to sympathize with how he might feel. I ask You to give me the wisdom to know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. I also ask that You give the other person the grace to hear what I am telling him so he might see that I have his best interest at heart and that I am only trying to help him.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I have the mind of Jesus Christ! When it is needful for me to speak correction to someone else, I do it with love, kindness, and patience. I refrain from allowing anger to rise up inside me. I am careful about the words that come out of my mouth, and I refuse to participate in vain arguing. I remain in control of myself as the Holy Spirit works mightily inside me. My words bring life to all who hear and receive them!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you think of a time in your own life when someone had to bring correction to you? How did you fare in the way you received it? Were you opened-hearted — or offended and defiant?
2. What did you do when you were being corrected that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you if you were the one trying to bring correction?
3. When it’s necessary to bring correction to someone, what should you do to make it easier for that person to receive your correction?