Like most husbands, I’ve heard the phrase “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it” a few times. In other relationships, though, it’s often not what we say or how we say it, but the foundation on which our statement is built. If we try to exert ourselves in scenarios with people whom we have no relationship or history with, oftentimes, our words fall on deaf ears. However, if there is history and a sense of mutual love and respect, we have a much greater chance of our concerns being heard with the right ears.
- Recall a time when you were the giver or recipient of a concern where there was a lack of history with the other person? How did it go?
READ THE WORD: GALATIANS 4:12-20 (ESV)
12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
- Why did Paul say in verse 12, “I also have become as you are”? (Compare that statement with 1 Cor. 9:21 if you are unsure.)
- What examples did Paul give the Galatians of how they had shown love and concern for him in the past (vss. 13-15)?
- How did Paul contrast his motives with those of the Judaizers (vss. 16-20)?
- Is there anyone now that you need to lovingly confront with the truth of Scripture? Is your current or past relationship with them a help or hindrance?
RESPOND TO GOD
Paul is often thought of as the master evangelist, but here we see him as a master of relationships, as well. He knew that facts or reason were not the only things his friends needed to hear. They needed to hear his heart and be reminded of their shared experience and love for one another.
So often we focus on speaking the truth but forget that Scripture tells us to speak it in love. When our desire to be right overshadows our love and concern for the other person, we only cause more damage, inflict more pain, remove ourselves from being peacemakers, and potentially become part of the problem.
- If you’re currently in or foresee a situation where you need to confront a friend, pray and ask God for discernment of what to share, when to share it, and for help in sharing it in love within the context of your relationship.