It is true that these many captives have made decisions on their own that have led them to where they are now. They may have made poor life choices, but we are not to disconnect from them. The mission of the church is for us to go and seek and rescue those who are taken captive. The snares of the enemy are manifold. They are not simply drugs. They include bitterness, unresolved conflicts, jealousy, uncontrolled anger, greed, and lust among many others. All sin is ultimately addictive. It seeks to control us. Satan brings us into his snare, and we find ourselves captive to him.
Second Timothy 2:24-26 is a summarizing instruction dealing with how we can better equip ourselves to help people recover themselves from the snares of the devil and his captivity. In order for us to be effective in this mission, first, we must be servants of the Lord. This is a title that the Scripture uses for both pastors and individual believers—we are all called to be servants of the Lord. Rescuing those ensnared by the enemy is not just the responsibility of the pastor.
Continuing on in evaluating our mission, second, we must not strive. The word means “to go to war or quarrel, or to dispute or argue.” Not one person has ever been rescued from a snare by someone yelling at them. You cannot shout someone into freedom in Christ. You are not going to argue someone into spiritual victory. In fact, not only does it not work, but it is actually counterproductive to your purpose to bring people back from captivity into freedom.[quote]An aptitude for teaching comes from a commitment to learning.[/quote]
Continuing our intelligence briefing on what it takes to successfully rescue Satan’s captives, we find that third, we must be gentle. Our society has a distorted view of what it means to be gentle. Gentleness is not weakness, nor is it exclusively a feminine trait. Gentleness is strength that is under control. Just as we cannot strive with people to rescue them, we also cannot win their freedom through our abrasiveness. Some people mistakenly think that being nasty is the same as being strong. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Paul goes on to describe the successful rescue operative fourth, as ready and willing to teach others. An aptitude for teaching comes from a commitment to learning. It’s all but certain that if you work with people in captivity to sin, that you will be confronted with all kinds of questions to which you do not know the answer. If you are accustomed to learning, those questions will drive you into a deeper study of the Word of God rather than frustrating you. No one is apt to teach who has not paid the price of learning.
Finally, we see that to rescue captives, we must be patient. Often, this is the prerequisite that destroys our effectiveness. The word patience means to be cheerful while enduring something that is very difficult. The devil won’t give up and release his prisoners just because you show up. He’s going to keep fighting to keep them ensnared, and often the process of them finding freedom will take longer than you think it should.
In verse 26, Paul goes on to say, “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” We should do all that we can to rescue those who have been ensnared, but we cannot lose sight of the fact there is also a personal responsibility for gaining freedom. Recovery is not passive; and if someone is not willing to be helped, you cannot make them receive the help you try to provide.
This is our mission, and my prayer is for you to join us as we strive to bring freedom to the many who are enslaved by Satan today. There are people in our communities, in our families, and even in our churches who need our help. Our mission is clear. Seek God’s help to become a true servant of the Lord. There are many “happy endings of new beginnings” waiting for you as you invest in the rescue and recovery of others.