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  • Shawn Thornton

Not Quarrelsome, But Kind

Tuesday - August 11th Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: 2 Timothy 2:23-26

Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 6:19-24


The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome

but must be kind to everyone,

able to teach, not resentful.

2 Timothy 2:24

Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots provided me and my childhood best friend, Lance, many hours of entertainment and fun. These plastic boxing Robots by Mattel were the size of a tabletop game. You controlled either the red or the blue robot, and your opponent controlled the other. The two robots could be moved toward each other, and arms could punch at each other. When you got a good punch on the other robot, their head popped up, and you won the match. The toy was mechanical and required no electricity or batteries. Lance and I could play it for hours.

My description might sound like it was a gruesome game. It veered more toward mechanical than gruesome. The object of the game was very basic. Keep punching till you won. Lance almost always won. He started young as a dedicated and ferocious competitor. So, whether we were playing a game of P-I-G or H-O-R-S-E with a basketball at the hoop in his driveway or Rock'em Sock'em Robots in his basement, Lance always won.

Many people go about life as if all of life is a round of Rock'em Sock'em Robots. They carry a chip on their shoulder. They are always on edge, ready to argue, fight, or debate at a moment's notice. Others of us don't take long to slip into the same quarrelsome spirit quickly. With the tensions in our country over the best response to COVID-19, racial relations, and the politics of this presidential election cycle, emotions run high. Too many of us are taking on either the red or blue robots Lance and I played with as kids. To say our world is tense right now would be a massive understatement. It seems the louder one side on any issue gets, the other side believes they will win the debate by getting louder and nastier.

That quarrelsome spirit can easily creep into our lives as the followers of Christ. We have rock-solid beliefs. We are passionate about the causes of moral righteousness and social justice. Others hold different views or are not as excited about a particular cause as we are. It is easy to go too far in our indignation and our communication of it.

As Paul wrote his final letter to the young pastor, Timothy, there is a sense he knew this might be the last time he communicated with his protege. He knew that his martyrdom for the cause of Christ was near. Pressure and persecution had been growing in severity. A harsh reality had set in among the leaders of the early church. The Roman empire changed its posture from tolerant of Christianity to utterly opposed to Christianity. Timothy was worried. He knew the growing pressure firsthand. Paul knew the church could easily slip into a posture of fighting back against Rome. Things could get ugly.

Paul challenged Timothy not to slip into a quarrelsome spirit - no matter what the other side did. In 2 Timothy 2:23-26, he challenged Timothy not to let that happen. At the heart of those verses, Paul said, "The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful." Easier said than done. But, very important for each of us to hear and embrace the instruction of the imprisoned Apostle.

Ask God to help you not become so frustrated that you begin to carry a cranky or ready to fight spirit. We will lose our testimony for Christ if we fall into the same bitter and contentious attitude those in the world often have. We have Jesus. We have hope. We have confidence in Christ and His promises to us. We have no reason to get so bent out of shape that we are just angry and quarrelsome in person or online. The world needs to see the followers of Christ as not quarrelsome but kind.

How have you been doing in your attitude, your words, your social media postings? Are they saturated with grace and truth? Do they communicate hope or desperation, as if you have no real hope?

Rock'em Sock'em Robots is a game for kids, not a way of life for the followers of Jesus Christ!

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