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
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.
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
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.
One characteristic of unrighteous people is that they revile
others -- they criticize other people using harsh and abusive
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'"
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).