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Fight The Good Fight, God's Way
Bible study on behavior.

It's common to hear a preacher or priest revile people who disagree with his teaching. Even among our brethren, we sometimes hear preachers and Bible class teachers unkindly criticize their opponents, sometimes in abusive ways.

Christians are to fight the good fight, contending earnestly for the truth (2 Tim. 4:7-8; Jude 1:3). But, God commands a particular way of fighting the fight -- a way that's very different from the way worldly men fight their opponents.

Be Nice -- Love Your Enemy
Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for people who persecute us, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:44-48).

To love our enemies we must bless them when they persecute us, rather than cursing them. And we never take our own vengeance, but leave room for the wrath of God. So if our enemy is hungry, we feed him; and if he's thirsty, we give him a drink (Rom. 12:14-20).

When we treat an enemy in the manner prescribed by God, we heap burning coals of fire upon his head, and overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:20). In other words, by doing good in return for evil, some of our enemies will feel sorry for acting in such an unbecoming manner.

Jesus personally gives us an excellent example of fighting the good fight, the right way. When He was crucified, He didn't revile people when they reviled Him, and He didn't threaten people when He suffered at their hands. Rather, He entrusted Himself to God. As a result, some of the people who watched Him die on the cross, believed He was the Son of God (1 Pet. 2:21-23; Matt. 27:54).

Speak The Truth in Love
God commands us to speak the truth (Eph. 4:15). But, we are also commands how to speak -- speak in love.

To speak in love means to speak according to the principles Paul laid down in 1 Cor. 13:4-7: patiently and kindly, not in a jealous or bragging or arrogant fashion, not acting unbecomingly, not using a person's wrongs against them, not rejoicing in unrighteousness but rejoicing in the truth, bearing and believing and hoping and enduring all things.

Be Gentle and Reverent
Speaking the truth in love, our behavior is gentle and reverent.

To have this strength of character, we must sanctify Christ in our hearts, setting Him apart in our hearts to be the person He is -- God, Lord, Savior. Then, we'll be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us, "yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:15).

And when we interact with brethren, even if they've sinned against us, we do so with a "spirit of gentleness" (Gal. 6:1).

Gracious Speech Commanded
Speaking the truth in love, our speech is gracious. Paul says, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Col. 4:6).

Gracious speech that's seasoned with salt is speech that is pleasing to the ears. The thoughts expressed may not be appealing to a person who is convicted of sin. But, the words themselves will be those that attract people to the gospel rather than push them away. In contrast, we are not angry, wrathful, malicious, slanderous, abusive, or untruthful (Col. 3:8).

For example, when Festus accused Paul of being mad, because of the truth of the gospel he presented that day, Paul respectively responded and said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. . . ." Paul spoke respectfully to people who insulted him -- he spoke the truth in love.

When our speech is gracious, as though seasoned with salt, we know how to answer each person (Col. 4:6). This doesn't mean we know the answer to every question, but we know how to answer it. In other words, we know the words to use, even if we don't know the answer.

Gracious speech is not something we employ just when talking to people about God or the Bible, it's something we use in every situation. It's the way God wants us to talk all the time -- it's not something we turn on and off, depending on the situation.

Don't Revile
One characteristic of unrighteous people is that they revile others -- they criticize other people using harsh and abusive language.

Peters says of these individuals, "then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties" (2 Pet. 2:9-10).

And Jude, speaking of false teachers, says, "Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you'" (Jude 1:8-9)!

As Christians, speaking the truth in love with gracious speech, we don't revile others, no matter what they believe or what they've done. We're always respectful, no matter whom we're talking to.

Kill Them With Kindness
Kill them with kindness is a popular expression that sums up many of the principles presented in this article. In other words, fight evil with good.

When we fight the good fight, the way God commands, we are nice and respectful toward other people. We're never harsh, abusive, or unkind.

Rather, we reflect Christ in our lives, the one who died on the cross for our sins -- "and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Pet. 2:23).