The Pugnacious Spirit

Quite some ago, I was invited to teach in a leadership seminar. I arrived earlier than I had planned, so I sat in the car and began to read from Titus 1:1-9. Paul had left Titus in Crete to appoint good men to lead the new church there, and he left Titus a list of qualifications. One qualification stood out to me more than others, the word “striker.” The NASB translates this verse as “pugnacious.” I like this translation. The word “pugnacious” means “to fight, to have a belligerent nature, to be combative in spirit, to be one who strikes out at others with out-of-control anger.” Paul was looking for men who could control their spirit.

Let’s look at a few signs of a pugnacious spirit…

2 Corinthians 11:20… “For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage [enslaves you and brings you down], if a man devour you [feeds on you and gives you food that does not nourish you], if a man take of you [controls you], if a man exalt himself [raises up and superimposes himself over you], if a man smite you on the face [flays you with his tongue and gives you a tongue-lashing] (KJV). These are signs of a pugnacious spirit.

3 John 1:9-10… “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (KJV). The signs of the pugnacious spirit are seen in the actions of not receiving other brothers, loving preeminence, doing wrong deeds, prating against another ministry, using malicious words, and casting others out of the church.

2 Peter 2:7… “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (KJV). Peter writes about the sensual conduct of the wicked (“unprincipled men” in the NASB), then lists their activities. In 2 Peter 3:17, Peter writes, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness” (NASB). Unprincipled men have a pugnacious spirit.

To avoid having a pugnacious spirit, have a love and concern for the sheep (Philippians 2:20) and have a servant heart, serving others instead of wanting things for yourself (Mark 10:43). 1 Timothy 4:12 talks about being an example in your walk and lifestyle. A good leader brings out the best in people; he guides others in such a way that he obtains willing obedience and loyal cooperation from the people. When people obey the leader because the fear him, they will give obedience grudgingly, but when people follow the leader willingly they do it because they have been inspired and motivated (see Hebrews 13:17). Philippians 2:3-4 tells us that a good leader recognizes the importance of another’s input. In 1 Timothy 4:14-16, Paul teaches that a good leader will grow spiritually and will seek to excel.

“Pugnacious” is a great word, but there is no place in the ministry for this kind of spirit. If we really want to be combative, let’s be combative against the devil.

Pastor George Belobaba

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