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Patient When Wronged

In instructing the young evangelist Timothy, Paul wrote, “And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2Tim 2:24-26 NASB).  This passage gives a beautiful explanation of the manner in which one should approach those who are lost in the bondage of Satan.  This approach is not one of brashness, arrogance, offensiveness, or rudeness, but of meekness, kindness, and patience.

Patience is a basic requirement of any teacher, and especially of a teacher of the gospel.  Any teacher who does not possess patience with his students will not be effective in his teaching.  A teacher must realize where his students stand in relation to where they need to be, and then teach them according to their needs.  Each student has his own capability for understanding, and a teacher must not rush him faster than he can learn.

However, the instruction of being “patient when wronged” (“forbearing,” ASV) indicates more than being able to wait for a student to come to an understanding of the gospel.  The phrase says that a teacher must be willing to endure resistance or even evil when he is teaching the gospel.  The teacher must not be hindered in his teaching by discouraging or offensive words or actions against him, or else the gospel will not be taught to those who need it.  This is simply because the message of the gospel is more important and must come before the peace of mind of the teacher.  Therefore, a teacher must be willing to teach the gospel at his own expense.

To be patient when wronged while teaching the gospel is easier said than done.  When trying to teach the gospel in the world, one is often ridiculed, slandered, verbally attacked, cursed, avoided, and sometimes even hated.  Worse than that, a teacher sometimes receives this treatment from his own brothers and sisters in Christ (to their shame).  Many preachers have boldly spoken the truth of God from the pulpit only to be rebuked by those in the church who needed to hear it the most.  A teacher cannot allow these things to frustrate him and distract him from his goal of teaching the gospel to others “that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil.”  Remember that it is God who grants “repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.”  Thus, Timothy was admonished by Paul to “suffer hardship... as a good soldier of Christ” (2Tim. 2:3), and that hardship would have included any harsh treatment from some whom he attempted to teach the gospel.

Therefore, a teacher must endure evil with patience as God has instructed.  Perhaps it is of benefit for the teacher to remember those who were patient with him when he was learning the truth.  However, there does come a time when patience ends and the limit of a teacher's efforts are reached.  When the Jews at Pisidian Antioch contradicted Paul and blasphemed, he said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).  Therefore, be patient and endure evil, but know when the reasonable limits of patience have been reached.

Stacey E. Durham




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