“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

This sentence is a part of the qualifications of an elder in a church in a town in Crete. The elder is to encourage and refute. In order to do this properly, the elders must hold firmly to the message.

We find other qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2, like “gentle” and “not quarrelsome.” The reason I bring this up is the requirement to refute the opposition and yet not be quarrelsome. We see a statement in 2 Timothy 2:4 which confirms this teaching: “and the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him, he must gently instruct.”

There is increasing opposition today to sound doctrine and to Christians. Christians must refute those in opposition, but they must do it gently, kindly, and without quarreling.


Written May 1984.

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