2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
This verse shifts from civil authorities to citizens in society in general.
2 to speak evil
“Speak evil” means to blaspheme, to slander. It is not right for a Christian to slander anyone. Slander hoists self at someone else’s expense.
of no one,
God created everyone in His own image. That carries dignity in God’s eyes. This is especially true when speaking of civil authorities.
to be peaceable,
“Peaceable” means freedom from contention and quarreling. This standard means the individual does not as a norm fight against others. There is no place for a belligerent attitude. A person of peace does not slander others but is congenial toward others. He concerns himself with the welfare of others. He is not offensive or argumentative in speech or conduct.
Ps 34: 14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
“Gentle” carries the idea of forbearing. We do not always have to have our way; we can defer to others. We offer clemency to others if they offend us. We may need to relinquish some of our rights at times. The “gentle” person is reasonable with others and will settle for less than what is due.
Ph 4: 5 Let your gentleness [forbearing attitude] be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
“Gentile” does not connote prissiness, softness, or weakness. It takes maturity not to react against those demanding their way.
The Christian has an obligation to keep his relationships with non-Christians with godly standards.
The Christian exercises certain qualities of character toward the pagan world in order to reach people for Christ. Qualities of peace, consideration, and meekness do not convey the idea that the Christian is a doormat on which others are to walk, passively run over by anyone who comes along. However, the believer is to present these qualities of character in society.
Western civilization is now pagan. The new gods are moral freedom, materialism, and hedonism. The self is the center of belief in western society.
Many evangelicals put their hope in the political movements to resolve their concerns about the direction of their country. This is an empty hope. Without the culture of Christianity, Christian values will not hold up in the current pagan scene.
The answer is not the influence of politics but a movement of people in great numbers coming to Christ in the West. Neither the New Testament nor early church history supports attempts to change society by reformation. We are in a spiritual warfare and this requires spiritual answers. God’s answer is regeneration, not reformation.
The real issue is that the Christian is to keep his terminal values in view. To attack the pagan values with instrumental values of electing the right people or fighting for the right cause will not get at the core of the issue. The illusion of bending the west into Christian values by external means will disappoint evangelicals further. It will remove the true priority of evangelism from its central place. If we give our time and money to misplaced instrumental values, the problem will get worse.
It is important not to confuse our role as citizens with our role to uphold biblical values of evangelism and discipleship. We do indeed have a role as citizens and we should do what we can with that role. Nevertheless, our primary loyalty is to the Word and the gospel, and not to our country. We do have responsibility to government, but with clear biblical guidelines. True scriptural value does not force extrinsic values on a society that does not hold to those values.
Neither is there a place for defamation and degrading those who do not hold to our values. That only alienates people to the gospel. To make enemies of those we wish to win to Christ is counterproductive to the ultimate cause of Christ. We cannot force social behavior on the lost. Paul or Titus did not attempt that in pagan Crete; they brought the unvarnished gospel to that country. That is where the true hope lies. We need to give ourselves to things of eternal consequence.