Even when we are opposed, we can speak truth firmly but lovingly to others. Are you pugnacious? Christ calls us to a better way. Speak firmly as you are convinced of the truth, and be meek and gentle like our Lord.
Not many use the term pugnacious today. Looking at just the word itself, if I didn’t know any better, I’d guess it referred to possessing a tenacious love for the dog breed pug (pug + tenacious = pugnacious).
Apart from my own nonsense, pugnacious is indeed a biblical term. “Pugnacious” is the NASB’s translation of plēktēs in 1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7. Other translations use the adjective “violent” (ESV, NET Bible, NKJV, NIV) or go for a noun, “a bully” (HCSB) or “striker” (KJV). When plēktēs is taken as a noun, it refers to “a person who is pugnacious and demanding.”1 Plēktēs stems from the verb plēssō, meaning “to strike with force”2 and could refer to both verbal and physical abuse.3
Whatever the translation, it is a negative character trait that must not be true of a pastor, let alone be the title for someone so described by this trait (“a bully”). In fact, as a pastor must be an example for all (1 Pet 5:3), no one should be pugnacious, especially Christians who are called to love all people and certainly one another (John 13:34–35).
So, what should we be instead?
A character trait that comes immediately after “pugnacious” in 1 Timothy 3:3 indicates what we should be instead: gentle.
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By David Closson — 2 years ago
In an explosive announcement last week, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone declared that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may no longer receive the sacrament of the Eucharist because of her outspoken support for abortion. The surprising news was released in a series of letters published by Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco. The decision amounts to a rare public rebuke of one of the nation’s most recognized politicians who identifies as Catholic and raises questions about pastoral authority, discipleship, and spiritual responsibility.
In a letter to Pelosi published on Friday, Cordileone, who oversees Pelosi’s home diocese, explained his rationale to the Catholic lawmaker. Citing the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis, Cordileone explained, “A Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal to others. Therefore, universal Church law provides that such persons ‘are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.’” According to the archbishop, Pelosi’s “extreme position” on abortion combined with her regular public comments identifying herself as Catholic necessitated Cordileone take pastoral action.
Although there is precedent for Catholic bishops not admitting politicians to communion over abortion (Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has been unable to receive the Eucharist in his home diocese for 17 years), it is rare. Moreover, Pelosi’s role as Speaker of the House (and third in line for the presidency), makes the archbishop’s decision particularly noteworthy. Thus, even for non-Catholics like myself, the story deserves attention.
First, Archbishop Cordileone underscored in his letter the “scandal” caused by Pelosi’s public support for abortion. In Roman Catholicism, a “scandal” refers to behavior that leads others to do evil. Cordileone used the word “scandal” four times to refer to Pelosi’s abortion advocacy, noting that the Speaker’s support for abortion has not only endangered her own soul but has caused harmful confusion among practicing Catholics and other Catholic politicians about the church’s teaching on abortion.
Specifically, the archbishop noted Pelosi’s regular practice of referring to her Catholic faith in the context of championing abortion. For example, as recently as May 4, Pelosi referred to herself as a “devout Catholic” and described opposition to abortion as “appalling.” Cordileone mentioned Pelosi’s recent efforts to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law after Texas passed a heart-beat bill in September. Under Pelosi’s leadership, the House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act in September, legislation that if enacted into law would weaken conscience protections for medical professionals, jeopardize prohibitions on taxpayer funding for abortion, enshrine late-term abortion into law, strike down many pro-life laws passed in the states, and equate the death of unborn children with routine medical procedures.
Second, Archbishop Cordileone noted Pelosi’s “resistance to pastoral counsel.” In letters published on Friday to the Catholic community and fellow priests serving in the archdiocese, Cordileone explained that the Speaker’s “resistance to pastoral counsel has gone on for too long.” He noted that he has prayed and searched his conscience for years about how to respond pastorally to Pelosi’s abortion stance and has attempted—without success—to speak with her privately on at least six occasions within the previous year.
By Doug Eaton — 2 years ago
Those who come to the Father by faith, in repentance, will receive all the kisses of God. He gives us the kiss of a new heart and a new spirit. Our hearts of stone are turned to hearts of flesh by the grace of God. We are kissed with strong assurance. Though the prodigal may have intense fears of walking away again, we see that the father is not apprehensive that the son will disgrace his mercy and forgiveness. For the Father knows that of those who are His, He will not lose one of them.
But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. – Luke 15:20
The kiss of the father in the parable of the prodigal son is full of meaning. The prodigal has returned home, but only after forsaking his father and laying waste to his inheritance. Living comfortably in his father’s house, the son wells up with pride and renounces his father’s authority. He requests his estate and leaves. Filling his life with evil, he takes harlots as his companions, feeds his lusts, and squanders his father’s precious gifts. Oh’ but the child of God is never outside their Father’s providence, and famine hits the land. The prodigal’s hopes are soon dashed upon the rocks of vanity and sin, and he finds himself in bondage.
He is joined to a citizen of that country where he is required to feed pigs. In this state, the lords of this country offer him nothing but to eat and sleep in the pig stalls. For a Jewish man to live with pigs is but another image of his descent into spiritual impurity. Sin brings temporary satisfaction but piles on long-lasting burdens, impossible to remove. The prodigal is in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction and delusion, but the grace of God is far-reaching, and the prodigal comes to himself and says, “It would be better to be a slave in my father’s house than to live here.” What a shame it is that many never come to themselves and never feel the burden of sin on their back, and what a pity many who do feel it never venture to go home. They die in their despair, seeking some way to have the burden removed. They sink ever slowly into the “slough of despond.” What a shame many have even taken their own lives in this despair.
In his unworthy state, covered in the stains and wounds of the foreign land, the prodigal walks slowly home, crestfallen, seeking only servitude in the house of his father. However, he is not even worthy of that, for dishonoring your father and mother is a crime worthy of death under the law.
When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion. Our Father’s eyes are ever on us, even when we cannot see Him. When our heads hang low, dejected from our sin, He looks and has compassion: even when our pain is self-inflicted. The prodigal’s father then ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Before the son could say a word, the father had placed his lips upon his son. He did not wait until the filth was washed away. Nor was he concerned with any of the scoffings that the community might bring.
Oh, the kiss of the Father says so much. Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on this parable, highlights what this kiss shows us. Here are a few of his points. The kiss shows much love for the son. There has been no loss of love in the heart of the father. No uncertainty in the love for his child has occurred due to his son’s crimes. The kiss demonstrates complete forgiveness, as it speaks of absolution. The debt the son incurred has been forgotten, and the burden of sin and guilt is gone. In the kisses of God, we see full restoration. The son is as much a son as he had ever been; the thoughts of servitude in his father’s house are to be rejected. No more food fit for swine, nor clothes fit for prisoners. There shall be a feast fit for royalty, a new robe is to be placed upon him, and a ring to signify to the world that he is part of his father’s family. The son has complete restoration, and all this happens before the son can speak his confession, which he has undoubtedly been rehearsing.
There is a beauty in true humility, for it does not flow from our natural self. It is the direct result of the working of the Spirit of God.
By Ellen Mary Dykas — 1 month ago
Jesus, please give me the fresh start you gave to Peter on the beach. O Lord, help me to love you and to learn from his journey of change into a man you used so powerfully. O God, I pray his words back to you now, and cry out for courage to take the next step—one step back towards faithfulness.
Read John 13:38. Father, I thought I meant it. I really did want to resist this time. . . to turn away from the desire that has bullied and hounded me. I’m sorry, Lord. I didn’t see temptation coming. Like Peter, I denied you last night—running away from you, refusing to pray, ignoring the Spirit’s warnings—even as I stepped toward sexual sin.
Read Psalm 40:1–2; 32:1–11; Mark 9:23–25. Oh Lord, I’m so discouraged. . . sad. . . beaten down. Help! Help me to not slide into despair. Hear my cry, Lord. Help me believe that you can reach my heart and lift me up out of this sinful mess I jumped into. Again. Cause me to hear your words of forgiveness, mercy, and hope. I want to believe but, God, it seems impossible that the change you promise actually works.
Read James 5:16, 1 John 1:5–7. God, I know that if I make friends with this sin, like I’ve done so many times, it will crush me. I’ll be honest: I don’t feel bad about how this grieves you, Father. I hate the guilty way I feel afterwards. I hate the shame and self-hatred that pounds me down into the ground. And I’m so angry that now I must tell my accountability helper that I lied about how I was really doing.
“You’re with me, God, and that will never change.”
Read Psalm 32:3; 143:7–8. I want to want godly sorrow. O God, give me the gift of tears (2 Cor. 7:9) over my fantasy life/pornography addiction/secret affair/cravings toward sex with my same-sex bestie/hooking up with my girlfriend every weekend/wearing my wife’s clothing/sex with myself. I can’t stay silent for another day about this pattern that controls me. Groaning, sighing, crying—please hear me and let me hear a fresh word of your love today, Lord.
Read John 21:15–17; Luke 22:31–32. Lord Jesus…thank you. I just remembered your walk on the beach with Peter after he had messed up so badly in denying you. You had just fed him, and I wonder if he feared what you’d say to him after breakfast? Would you mock, shame, or call him out in front of his friends? And me—will you finally crush me down, Lord, after confessing the same thing to you for the hundredth time?!
But your conversation with Peter warms me. You invited him to express his love for you on that beach.