Read | 2 Timothy 2:4, 16-25
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he shared helpful instructions, which apply to all Christians. That epistle is a rich compendium of life lessons he’d learned in full-time service to the Lord.
The apostle knew that while certain people were serving God out of love, others were “preaching Christ even from envy and strife” and out of “selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives” (Phil. 1:15, 17). As for himself, Paul said that from the beginning of his Christian walk, he had been serving God with a clear conscience (2 Tim. 1:3).
Then, to introduce some guidelines for godly service, he gave Timothy this word picture: “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2:4).
There are undoubtedly hundreds of ways to become “entangled,” but Paul gave one specific example—in verse 14, he cautioned against quarreling about words, since that can lead to ruin. He also warned Timothy to avoid “worldly and empty chatter” (v. 16), and urged him to “refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels” (v. 23). Paul summarized the idea in the next verse by saying that “the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome,” but instead ought to be “kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.”
How quickly our service to God can degenerate into an angry debate. We at times think the only way to deal with error is by strong argument, but there are often opportunities to correct opponents with gentleness (v. 25).