As an addendum to the last blog I wrote about being frank and speaking the truth in all things, I thought I\’d add some biblical input to what I spoke before from mostly opinion.

"Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; the younger men as brothers; the older women as mothers; and the younger women as sisters, in all purity." 1 Timothy 5:1-2

1 Timothy is a letter written by the apostle Paul, to his assistant and protege, Timothy. During their missionary journeys, Paul urged Timothy to stay behind in Ephesus while he ventured on to Macedonia. He left him there for the purpose of guiding the Ephesian church in keeping with true Christian doctrine. The advice given to Timothy in the letter concerns how to handle himself as a minister, and therefore applies to all of us, as we are to mimick our ministers in their behavior.

While the bible does encourage boldness and honesty in all things, there doesn’t seem to be the command to be hurtful or coarse in our frankness. There are times when a sharp rebuke is necessary, but even in this letter, which starts out commanding Timothy to keep false doctrine in check, gentleness seems to be emphasized. In fact, the apostle urges Timothy not to rebuke elders, but to appeal to them as beloved fathers. To appeal to young men as brothers, old women as mothers, etc.

Being a bold Christian does not require a person be allergic to gentleness; in fact, biblical boldness seems to encourage gentleness.

When we are dealing with something so important as Christian truth in a world of utter falsehoods, the tendency is to want to be combative. Afterall, the bible says we are like soldiers at war. Even young Timothy is called to "fight a good fight." And as bold as Paul was, one would expect him to insist on being very frank when offering a reproof.

But the biblical way doesn\’t appear to support that. There are times when a person\’s error is such that a sharp rebuke is necessary, but in the case of young Timothy, even in his mission to keep false doctrines in check, he is called to be gentle and reasonable, at least in his individual rebukes and reproofs.

So it appears that in speaking the truth in all things, we are not necessarily to become the type of people who let words fly, voicing their opinions indiscriminately. We all know people who have no scruples in their opinion-giving, and we’d hate to see them saying they are simply doing God’s work, when rather their "freedom of speech" is a social flaw or the result of their simply not being considerate. We are to apply biblical advice, be gentle and careful with the words we use. As James says, "be swift to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger."

Speak the truth in all things, but choose your battles wisely, and remember to be gentle and respectful.

-Matt

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