In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves - That is, those who embrace error, and array themselves against the truth. We are not to become angry with such persons, and denounce them at once as heretics. We are not to hold them up to public reproach and scorn; but we are to set about the business of patiently “instructing them.” Their grand difficulty, it is supposed in this direction, is, that they are ignorant of the truth. Our business with them is, “calmly to show them what the truth is.” If they are angry, we are not to be. If they oppose the truth, we are still calmly to state it to them. If they are slow to see it, we are not to become weary or impatient. Nor, if they do not embrace it at all, are we to become angry with them, and denounce them. We may pity them, but we need not use hard words. This is the apostolic precept about the way of treating those who are in error; and can any one fail to see its beauty and propriety? Let it be remembered, also, that this is not only beautiful and proper in itself; it is the wiseST course, if we would bring others over to our opinions. You are not likely to convince a man that you are right, and that he is wrong, if you first make him angry; nor are you very likely to do it, if you enter into harsh contention. You then put him on his guard; you make him a party, and, from self-respect, or pride, or anger, he will endeavor to defend his own opinions, and will not yield to yours. “Meekness” and “gentleness” are the very best things, if you wish to convince another that he is wrong. With his heart first, and then modestly and kindly show him “what the truth is,” in as few words, and with as unassuming a spirit, as possible, “and you have him.”
If God peradventure will give them repentance, - Give them such a view of the error which they have embraced, and such regret for having embraced it, that they shall be willing to admit the truth. After all our care in teaching others the truth, our only dependence is on God for its success. We cannot be absolutely certain that they will see their error; we cannot rely certainly on any power which argument will have; we can only hope that God may show them their error, and enable them to see and embrace the truth; compare Acts 11:18. The word rendered “peradventure,” here - μήποτε mēpote- means, usually, “not even, never;” and then, “that never, lest ever” - the same as “lest perhaps.” It is translated “lest at any time,” Matthew 4:6; Matthew 5:25; Matthew 13:15; Mark 4:12; Luke 21:34; “lest,” Matt, Luke 7:6; Luke 13:29; Luke 15:32; “et al.: lest haply,” Luke 14:12; Acts 5:39. It does not imply that there was any CHance about what is said, but rather that there was uncertainty in the mind of the speaker, and that there was need of caution LesT something should occur; or, that anything was done, or should be done, to prevent something from happening.
It is not used elsewhere in the New Testament in the sense which our translators, and all the critics, so far as I have examined, give to it here - as implying A hope that God would give them repentance, etc. But I may be permitted to suggest another interpretation, which will accord with the uniform meaning of the word in the New Testament, and which will refer the matter to those who had embraced the error, and not to God. It is this: “In meekness instructing ‹those that oppose themselves‘ ( ἀντιδιατιθεμένους antidiatithemenous) ‹lest‘ - μήποτε mēpote- God should give them repentance, and they should recover themselves out of the snare of the devil,” etc. That is, they put themselves in this posture of opposition so that they shall not be brought to repentance, and recover themselves. They do it with a precautionary view that they may not be thus brought to repentance, and be recovered to God. They take this position of opposition to the truth, intending not to be converted; and this is the reason why they are not converted.
Those that oppose - Αντιδιατιθεμενους . This seems to refer to those who opposed the apostle's authority; and hence the propriety of the allusion to the rebellion of Korah and his company. See observations at the end of the chapter.
If God peradventure - He was to use every means which he had reason to believe God might bless; and the apostle intimates that, bad as they were, they were not out of the reach of God's mercy.
The religion of Christ will be exemplified by its possessor in the life, in the conversation, in the works. Its strong principles will prove an anchor. Those who are teachers of the word should be patterns of piety, ensamples to the flock. Their example should rebuke idleness, slothfulness, lack of industry and economy. The principles of religion exact diligence, industry, economy, and honesty. “Give an account of thy stewardship” will soon be heard by all. Brethren, what account could you render if the Master should now appear? You are unready. You would as surely be reckoned with the slothful servants as they exist. Precious moments are yet left you. I entreat you to redeem the time. 2T 501.1
Paul exhorted Timothy: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” 2T 501.2
In order to accomplish the work which God requires of them, ministers need to be qualified for their position. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, speaks thus concerning his ministry: “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.” 2T 501.3Read in context »
You are not teachable, therefore the cause of God would not prosper in your hands. You would fail to recognize a defeat when you met with one. The cause of God would be brought into disrepute and dishonor by your labors, and you would fail to discover the fact. A certain class may be convinced by you of the truth; but more would be turned away and placed where they could not be reached by proper, judicious labor. Interwoven with your experience are things that will prove detrimental to the truth. God cannot accept you as a representative of the truth. 2T 557.1
Your manners have not been refined and elevated. Your deportment has not been pleasing to God. Your words have been careless. You lack piety and devotion. You have not obtained an experience in the spiritual life. You fail to understand how to rightly divide the word of life, giving to each his portion of meat in due season. You have preferred to contend and contest points when you were entirely out of your place and could but meet with defeat. This is the spirit of the class in Maine whom I have mentioned. It is their delight to engage in contest and brave it through. You would not manifest meekness in instructing those who oppose themselves. You will ever be crippled, in a degree, by your unfortunate experience. You lack self-culture and meekness. You have important lessons to learn before you can become an unassuming, acceptable follower of Christ, even in a private capacity. 2T 557.2Read in context »
Able ministers of Christ are required for the work in these last days of peril, able in word and doctrine, acquainted with the Scriptures, and understanding the reasons of our faith. I was directed to these scriptures, the meaning of which has not been realized by some ministers: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” 1T 648.1
The man of God, the minister of Christ, is required to be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. A pompous minister, all dignity, is not needed for this good work. But decorum is necessary in the desk. A minister of the gospel should not be regardless of his attitude. If he is the representative of Christ, his deportment, his attitude, his gestures, should be of such a character as will not strike the beholder with disgust. Ministers should possess refinement. They should discard all uncouth manners, attitudes, and gestures, and should encourage in themselves humble dignity of bearing. They should be clothed in a manner befitting the dignity of their position. Their speech should be in every respect solemn and well chosen. I was shown that it is wrong to make coarse, irreverent expressions, relate anecdotes to amuse, or present comic illustrations to create a laugh. Sarcasm and playing upon the words of an opponent are all out of God's order. Ministers should not feel that they can make no improvement in voice or manners; much can be done. The voice can be cultivated so that quite lengthy speaking will not injure the vocal organs. 1T 648.2
Ministers should love order and should discipline themselves, and then they can successfully discipline the church of God and teach them to work harmoniously like a well-drilled company of soldiers. If discipline and order are necessary for successful action on the battlefield, the same are as much more needful in the warfare in which we are engaged as the object to be gained is of greater value and more elevated in character than those for which opposing forces contend upon the field of battle. In the conflict in which we are engaged, eternal interests are at stake. 1T 649.1Read in context »
To the sixth of these pamphlets, Elder Olsen wrote on November 22, 1896, these introductory words: TM xxxi.1
“During the past few months, I have received a number of communications from Sister E. G. White, which contain most valuable instruction to myself and to all our laborers; and knowing that all the workers connected with the cause of present truth would be benefited personally and helped in their work by having this instruction, I have collected this matter, and had it printed in this little tract for their benefit. It is not necessary that I ask for it a careful and prayerful study, for I know it will receive this.” TM xxxi.2
It was not an easy task for Ellen White to pen such stirring messages of rebuke and reproof, nor was it easy for the recipients to accept these messages as applying in the personal experience and then set about to make the corrections which were called for. They were published in the 1890's by the president of the General Conference and by the General Conference Committee as pamphlets, that all ministers might be warned. Then materials were republished in the body of Testimonies to Ministers In 1923, to keep before every Seventh-day Adventist minister and administrator perils which could seriously militate against the interests of the work of God. TM xxxi.3Read in context »
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers [not talking the truth in a boasting, triumphant manner], but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 2T 389.1
Brother C wants his mind to control others, and unless he can have this privilege he is dissatisfied. He is not a peacemaker. His course will cause more confusion and distrust in a church than any ten persons can counteract. His peculiar temperament is such that he will be picking flaws, and finding fault with all but himself. He will not prosper until he learns the lesson that he ought to have learned years ago, humbleness of mind. At his age he will learn this lesson at much cost to self. All his life he has been trying to build himself up, to save himself, to preserve his own life; and he has lost his labor every time. 2T 389.2
What Brother C needs is to have the deceptive gloss taken from his eyes, that he may look, with eyes enlightened by the Spirit of God, into his own heart, and test and weigh every motive, and not let Satan put a false coloring upon his course of action. His position is extremely perilous. He will soon turn decidedly to the right, or he will go on deceiving others and deceiving himself. He needs to have his inmost soul converted, and to be subdued and transformed by the renewing of his mind. Then he can do good. But he can never come into the light until he encourages a spirit of humble confession and takes hold with decision to right his wrongs and, as far as he can, to do away the reproach he has brought upon the cause of God. 2T 389.3Read in context »