How to make enemies

“Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: ‘We had to speak the word of God to you first.  Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.’”  Acts 13:46.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Leviticus 1-3, and Acts 13.

Paul infuriated a lot of people in his day as well as today.  Today we read a sample of what he sounded like and how aggravating his words were.

Paul is talking to his fellow Jews.  These are the folks who knew the Old Testament and believed that they were doing a good job of doing what God wanted.

Paul starts warmly by telling them that he wanted his fellow Jews to hear his message first.  Why?  He owed it to them because of his cultural relationship to them.

Note that after Paul delivered his usual two-part message (Who Jesus is and what Jesus had done), many in his audience of Jews began to verbally abuse him.

How does Paul react?  He mocks them.  He tells an audience of Jews, who consider themselves beloved by God, that they are actually unworthy of what God is offering. By rejecting his message, Paul tells them that they have confirmed their unworthiness.

Those wouldn’t be well-received words!  If anything, Paul’s opponents were sure that they were worthy of God’s admiration and heaven.

Paul was indeed a straight shooter.  I doubt that his preaching would have gotten responses like, “That was interesting.”  More likely by the time one of his sermons was over, Paul would have added either friends or enemies.  There was no soft landing in between.

For me, this means that I must be willing to speak the truth.  I waffle on giving direct shots because I don’t want to offend others. There is a place for that reluctance.  But there also is a place for directness: “What you’re doing is wrong.”  Obviously, only by living in perpetual closeness to God can I get the timing right.

“Lord, another role model parades before me.  I must be willing to speak the truth.  Help me to get the timing right.  Help me to speak Your Words to those I meet this afternoon.  You are a great God.”

How’s your timing when it comes to speaking the truth?

 

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