The Spirit of Good Will

“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.”
—II Timothy 2:24, 25

THE GREEK WORD translated “strive” in this passage is machomai. According to Young’s Analytical Concordance it means to ‘fight, quarrel, or be contentious.’ This admonition ‘must not strive’ reads just as positively as the Jewish Law when it said, “Thou shalt not.” Instead of thus being quarrelsome, the apostle indicates that those who endeavor to instruct others in the doctrines of the Divine plan should be ‘gentle,’ and in ‘meekness’ instruct those who 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.” (vss. 25,26) In presenting the message of Truth gently and meekly there exists an opportunity of overcoming the blindness created by the Adversary to God’s message.


While our text states that the servant of the Lord must not strive, verse 5 of the same chapter declares that we should “strive.” These two texts, however, are quite harmonious, for the Greek word rendered ‘strive’ in verse five is athelo, and means, according to Young’s Concordance, ‘to be a champion.’ It is the Greek original from which our English word ‘athletic’ is derived. In order to be a champion, or a victor, in the Christian warfare, one of the rules we must observe is not to be contentious, or given to strife in our presentation of the Truth to others.

We are living in days when wonderful prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled and unfolded to the Lord’s people. Indeed, Divine secrets are now being more and more clearly revealed to them. It is the time of the Lord’s Second Presence, and there is every evidence that we are living during the greatest dispensational changes in the world’s history. We have been privileged to see more clearly that the movements and destinies of nations are fulfilling Divine prophecy in a marvelous way. We can see that the Lord is doing a wonderful work preparatory to the outpouring of his kingdom blessings upon mankind.

But how are we being affected by these wonderful outworkings of the Divine plan, and by our knowledge of the glorious truths now due? What is their value to us? Certainly we are inspired by the Lord’s Spirit to make known these glad tidings to others—to our brethren, and to all who have ears to hear. But are we striving lawfully in our efforts to do this? Are we manifesting the spirit of tolerance and good will to all? We should remember, as Paul has told us, that although we have knowledge, and although we have faith sufficient to remove mountains, if we have not love we are as “nothing.”—I Cor. 13:2


As God’s children we should be able to converse freely and intelligently upon his Divine plan and purpose as revealed in the inspired Word. This is a great privilege which he has granted to us of representing him in the earth. In this, our Father has richly lavished upon us his wondrous grace. Yet, as the apostle declares, even though we “should speak in the languages of men and of angels, but have not love” we are but as “sounding brass or a noisy cymbal.”—I Cor. 13:1, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

Thus we see that a knowledge of the Scriptures, vital as it is, is really a means to an end. The end is that we may be acquainted with the Divine purposes so that we might serve the Lord intelligently and acceptably. And if we are to be pleasing to him we must comply with the rules, or conditions, governing the Christian racecourse.

As ambassadors of Christ, it is the Divine will that we be conformed to his character likeness. We are to speak as he spoke, and are to act as he acted. If we are thus conformed to his image now, we will be a part with him, beyond the veil, of that promised seed of Abraham, constituting that glorious spiritual government—God’s great kingdom of promise in the earth.

As long as we are in this fleshly ‘tabernacle’ we shall be conscious of various weaknesses and imperfections. We can rejoice with great peace of mind, and complete assurance, in the knowledge and in the experience of Ephesians 1:6,7, that our Father has made us accepted in the Beloved. In him we have redemption, through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.


The Christian life is teaching us that every difficulty and disappointment are tests of our faith, and every unpleasant incident is a test of our goodwill and brotherly love. One of the earliest lessons we have to learn in the Christian life is that we should be sympathetic and kind, and willing to forgive. This may seem simple, yet in many instances it is very difficult to put into practice. But it is one of the ‘rules,’ for Jesus said, “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”—Matt. 6:15

Jesus amplified this requirement of forgiveness, explaining that if we have enemies, we must love them. If there are those who curse us, we are to bless them. If we know of any who hate us, we are to do them good. And we are to pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us.—Matt. 6:44

The Apostle Paul was in prison at Rome when he wrote to encourage his brethren saying, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” (II Tim. 2:12) He prefaced his words with the reminder to all, “I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (vs. 10) The apostle surely did endure, but it was not merely for himself. It was also for the elect, the body of the Anointed.

Are we likewise enduring all things for the elect’s sake, for the body members of the Christ still in the flesh? Some of these we may know. Others we do not know, yet possibly some of these may be within our reach, and can be found and helped by our faithfulness. Are we, like Paul, doing all we can to assist our brethren to obtain the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus? Paul’s heart took in all of the elect, and we may be assured that the larger our hearts toward his own, the more Christlikeness we possess.

Our desire to help others see and appreciate the Truth in all its beauty should be inspired by the largeness of our hearts and by the spirit of love. We are not to be narrow or restricted, in our outlook for the welfare of others, but in the spirit of goodwill, should reach out to help as many as possible. Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.”—II Cor. 6:11-13, New International Version

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