For years I have written and spoken against being contentious. Yes, I’ve contended against contentiousness! A contentious, always-in-a-fight spirit will damage whoever it touches. A wrong spirit will kill any marriage, church, or movement.
But make no mistake. The mark of a biblical leader is his willingness to contend for the faith. While we should not be contentious, we must contend.
Because we are commanded to “hold fast”
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.—2 Timothy 1:13
You can’t hold fast to something that others are trying to take from you without contending. We have the treasure of the gospel and the truth of sound doctrine committed to our trust. Apostate and liberal leaders, a degenerating culture, and Satan himself tries to pull it from our grasp. If we are going to hold it fast, we will have to contend for it.
Because we are commanded to contend
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.—Jude 3
Contending for the faith is not an option for the child of God; it is a matter of obedience. It is not for us to decide if we like to contend for the faith or if it makes a difference to do it. We are commanded to earnestly contend for the faith.
Because we have a generation following us
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.— 2 Timothy 2:2
Yes, we must contend for the faith because of the direct commands of God. But even without these commands, could we let slip the doctrines of God’s Word upon which the generation following us must build their lives? Can I change my doctrine or loosen my grip on the faith when I have five precious grandchildren coming behind me? Not for a moment! Rather, I must pass the faith to them and teach them, “keep that which is committed to thy trust” (1 Timothy 6:20).
It is our sacred duty to hold fast sound doctrine and contend for the faith in the midst of a decadent culture. We are commanded to stand by the truth—to contend for the faith with those who deny the truth.
We must contend truthfully. That is, we must answer error with truth. We must know God’s Word, cherish its doctrines, and be able to clearly articulate its truths.
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.— Titus 1:9
We must contend lovingly. The spirit with which we contend makes the difference between if we are contending for the faith or being contentious.
And 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; 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.—2 Timothy 2:24-26
We must contend faithfully. I pray earnestly for revival in America. But with or without a moral majority, with or without visible results, we must stand fast. And as we do, we stand with a host of heroes of the faith who were faithful even to death.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.—Revelation 2:10