Passage 1 Tim 3:3 / James 4:1-10
Other passages Exodus 2:14
ref Genesis 4, 2 Samuel 11
Background 1 Timothy 3’s list of qualifications for a church leader, which tells us
what a mature disciple should be like.
“Not violent, but gentle”
Synopsis of the passage A mature disciple is not violent
Message Outline Part 1: Not violent
● Violence and shame in the Bible
● Violence among us
● The basis of a cure
○ Ask God for what we need
○ Humbly submit to God
○ Wash our hands and hearts
■ We are to make an effort to clean ourselves up
■ This include getting support, and help or training
in healthier ways. Humility will be needed.
○ In Jesus, God has removed our shame and given us the
love and respect for which we long.
Part 2: ‘Not Violent, but gentle’ in the context of leadership. The
example of Paul from 2 Cor 10.
Title Maturity – Not violent
1 Tim 3:3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
● We have been going through the qualifications for church leaders in 1 Tim 3. We are also taking these
as markers of mature discipleship.
● Last time, we discussed the qualification ‘Not a drinker’. In summary:
○ Alcohol is a blessing in moderation but a curse if abused
○ Abuse is shown when we do things we shouldn’t, or neglect to do what we should
○ We are free to drink, but
■ We should not overestimate our capacity to avoid abusing alcohol
■ We should consider others who could be affected by our example
■ But for the sake of the salvation of others, we may follow Jesus and Paul in going into
potentially risky situations
● After ‘not drinker’, we have the qualification ‘not violent’.
● Just as drinking precedes violence in today’s text, drinking often enables violence:
○ US stats: Estimated 40% of all violent crimes happened when someone was drinking, 70% of
those (28% of all crime) crimes occured at home to someone who was drinking.
● So our topic for today Is ‘not violent’.
● Some motivating questions
○ Why are people violent?
○ How can we avoid violence?
● Three points
○ Violence in the bible
○ Violence in current society
○ Addressing the roots of violence
2.Violence in the Bible: shame and desire
So first of all, what is violence?
– The word used here for ‘violent’ can be translated ‘brawler’.
– This is someone who is ready to punch you out.
– Someone who easily takes offense, and responds in anger
– And if you are drinking, that will make it more likely that you act it out violently.
Let’s look at some biblical accounts of violence by individuals
– Gen 4. Quote 4:4-7
4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.
The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did
not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do
what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching
at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
– The eldest son Cain is ashamed of his failure to do what is right, and resentful of his successful
younger brother Abel.
– He is unable to deal with his negative feelings, and winds up murdering his brother Abel
as a way to deal with his shame
– A few verses later, Abel’s descendant Lamech, boasted that Lamech would kill anyone who
– To maintain their honor, some men are willing to commit murder.
– In Exodus 2. Moses kills an Egyptian who is beating a fellow Hebrew. He is discovered by another
Hebrew, who remarks:
– 2:14 “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed
– So why did Moses kill the Egyptian? Was it to express his desire to be a benefactor to his tribe,
and get honor? Or was it purely for justice?
– The bible tells us that Moses was humbled in the desert, and Moses became known for his
humility. (Numbers 12:3) And then he was appointed ruler by God.
– The implication is that Moses was looking for honor among his people when he killed. But that
was not God’s way to make him ruler.
– 2 Sam 11-12: David is staying home rather than doing his job, and he sees Bathsheba bathing, and
takes her to bed. She gets pregnant, so David conspires to get her husband killed.
– David’s lust for something that wasn’t his, and then his desire to cover up his shameful deed,
lead him to violence. As a result, God shames him by letting his son take his wives publicly.
In these cases, we have men acting violently to get or defend what they want, which is basically honor.
Bible cultures are honor/shame oriented, like Japan.
3.Violence in our society
– As we saw from the bible, men in particular seek honor and avoid shame. One expert on violent
criminals claims that all serious violence is due to shame and humiliation, disrespect and ridicule, and an
attempt to prevent or undo this ‘loss of face’.
– E.g. If society treats you as worthless, you can’t get a job, you can’t get married, you have no
friends, you will experience a mixture of anger or depression. You will tend to think other people
are worthless too, because they certainly aren’t of any use to you.
– And then particularly if you are a man, you may commit a violent act like the ones we see
in the news.
– E.g. in honor cultures, families will even kill their own family members to preserve honor. And we
have seen that too recently in the news, where a man killed his son.
– But here is a problem closer to home: DV
– DV is also often associated with alcohol use: 80% of DV is associated with alcohol or drug
problems, or mental illness (e.g. BPD).
– This is usually framed as men assaulting women, but that’s not the whole truth.
– In DV, who starts it? estimated percentages, in decreasing order?
– Mutual, 48-52%
– Female: 35-38%
– Male: 15-22%
– So the most common case, is that both participate and it is not clear who started it. This case has
the highest recurrence rates.
– Second most commonly, women start it. The women themselves say so.
– The least likely case is that the man starts it.
– We saw that for men, violence is often about honor and shame.
But why do women commit DV?
– One survey of 1000 women, of which 280 assaulted their partners, gave the following top
reasons for the assault:
– My partner wasn’t sensitive to my needs
– I wished to gain my partner’s attention
– My partner was not listening to me
– Other surveys looked at reasons for women initiating violence.
– The top reasons are expression of negative emotion, e.g. anger, and a desire to retaliate
for emotional hurt.
– And relatedly, the inability to verbally express their feelings.
– Another common reason is for control and intimidation of their partner.
– These are psychological reasons.
– Self-defense is relatively low as a reason for women being violent.
– Both men and women are aggressive and commit violence, although the way that is done, and the
consequences may be different.
– Overall, the statistics show that women are more controlling (especially early in marriage), start
violence and retaliate more often, use objects more often.
– But they get injured and require medical help slightly more often.
– All this is very different from what you might hear in media, etc. Here are some links to look at.
– Short critique of majority view: http://www.batteredmen.com/batdulut.htm
– Survey of studies: https://drdondutton.com/media/
– Violence is a human problem, affecting both men and women.
4.Addressing the root of violence
– But again, why does this happen?
– James writes on the causes of fighting and how to stop it
– James 4:1-2a
– 4 1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that
battle within you? 2a You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get
what you want, so you quarrel and fight.
– All of us, men and women, want to be treated with respect and love, valued and have our voices heard.
We want many other things too.
– We believe that we deserve these things.
– But we often don’t get what we think we deserve.
– And when we don’t get it, we become angry and we fight.
– Alternatively, we may suppress our anger or withdraw.
– This leads to stress, self-harm, isolation, etc.
– Worse, we may not even be aware of these thoughts and emotionst.
– What does James tell us we can do about this problem?
– Here we have an outline, which we will go through quickly:
– 2b You do not have because you do not ask God.
– The first thing is that we are to look to God.
– We are to ask God for what we think we need.
– We aren’t to use fighting to take it or force someone else to give it to us.
– It doesn’t matter whether we deserve it, or they owe it to us
3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may
spend what you get on your pleasures.
– The second thing is that we notice our selfishness. We should ask ourselves?
– Do I really deserve what I am demanding?
– Do I care just about my wants, and not about the other person?
– 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but
shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he
will flee from you. 8a Come near to God and he will come near to you.
– The third thing is to submit ourselves to God
– The promise is that if we humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God, that he will
come to us. His presence in our lives is our strength and motivation.
– 8b Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve,
mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
– We are to grieve our sin, and take action to make ourselves clean
– Our hands are what we do, and our heart is how we feel. We need to purify both of them.
– Making ourselves clean might require us to share our problems with others, or get training
on communication skills or managing our emotions, etc.
– This requires humility!
– 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
– v10 If we humble ourselves and submit to God, he will heal us and lift us up
– When Jesus died on the cross, he took our shame.
– And when he rose, he made us part of God’s family, a name of great honor.
– And his plan is crown us with glory
– Isn’t this what we long for so deeply? Isn’t this more important than anything else?
– So let us not be angry or afraid, but humble ourselves before God, and he will heal us.
5.Questions for discussion
1. What kind of things come to mind when you hear the word ‘violence’?
2. To what extent have you observed or even experienced aggressive or controlling behavior, verbal or
otherwise? What kind of abuse was it? How did it affect you?
3. How do you deal with negative feelings?
4. What do you think about James’ instructions on dealing with fighting? Does it match with your
1. Go to God for what you need
2. Examine whether you are being reasonable or selfish
3. Be humble and submit your desires and emotions to God
4. Take action to clean yourself up (which may include being humble enough to ask for help)
5. Remember God has taken away your shame, has already honored you, and plans glory for you
● Violence can be triggered by many things, including feeling we are not getting the respect or love or
quality of life we deserve. Violence is not a good response.
● Ultimately, we are to submit our desires to God, let him shape them, and give us what we need.
● We are to take steps to make ourselves better able to handle the desires within us.
○ That involves changing our attitudes and our behavior
● God loves and honors us as his children, and no one can take that away from us.
Let us pray.