Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:14-26
Key verse: (14) Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening.
Reflection: Happy Valentine’s Day! As I prepared to write this devotion, I was hopeful to find a passage about love so I could lift up the celebration of the day. Instead I read 2 Timothy 2:14-26. What a weird passage! What does it say to our world? And to our celebrations of love?
The author of this letter is trying to encourage Timothy, the young leader, as he deals with the realities of his life and ministry. In these verses the focus is on dealing with people who are distorting the good news of the gospel and teaching false doctrines. I’m sure Timothy and his companions were tempted to argue and debate with these heretics. Likely heated conversations arose about the gospel.
The letter writer told Timothy and his companions to “avoid wrangling over words.” When is the last time that “wrangling over words” changed someone’s mind? When did a debate transform someone’s character? Not often, if ever!
Perhaps this passage has wisdom for our world. There is a lot of “wrangling over words” these days on television, on social media, in corporate board rooms and in the halls of government. Little progress is made. Those who are listening, the ones on the sidelines or in the middle on an issue, are ruined by that wrangling. They aren’t persuaded. They aren’t transformed. They aren’t encouraged.
Perhaps this passage has wisdom for Valentine’s Day. There can be a lot of “wrangling over words” in our relationships and those tangled, wrangled words don’t convey our love. Today is a good day to resolve not to wrangle. Try listening. Ask questions. Speak kindly and gently. The message of good news is more likely to be heard and accepted when it is conveyed in a gracious way.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for your love shown to me in Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, give me the self-control and patience I need to avoid “wrangling over words.” Teach me how to love others the way you love me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].