Archive for June 27th, 2007

Compassionate Speaking,
Compassionate Listening

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Today’s scripture: Galatians 4:8-20 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Julie Benson):

It is evident that Paul has shared some “truth” with the Galatians that was difficult to hear. The people were overly sensitive and turned away from his counsel of past and present. How often do we receive criticism — whether we find it constructive or not — and automatically dismiss that person because we adamantly disagree? Is it really because we disagree or is it because there may just be an ounce of truth that we are afraid to face?

When Paul is offended by the negative response from his friends, he doesn’t turn up his nose and run. He uses Jesus’ model for conflict resolution found in Matthew 18:15-17 by airing his grievances honestly and lovingly with his friends. This is the same principle we abide by as members of this congregation. We are called to hold each other accountable in the body of Christ.

How are you doing? Do you run out and gossip with your friends about how callous someone appeared? Do you direct deal in an accusatory and harsh way, unwilling to listen? Do you just stuff it all back inside and wait for the last straw so that you have “good reason” to leave the church altogether?

Look again at how Paul addresses the Galatians: “My dear friends, what I would really like you to do is…” Other translations vary slightly: “I plead with you, brothers…” (NIV) or “Friends, I beg you…” (NRSV) In each, there is a two part equation. First, regardless of Paul’s frustration, he insists on addressing them affectionately, though he may know that their hearts were alienated from him. Do you continue to be warm, welcoming, and hospitable in spite of your hurt and frustration? Second, Paul begins his conversation by clearly stating his request. How often do we just blow off steam and approach the situation without a potential solution?

Today, I am reminded to carefully examine the way I approach all I encounter in my daily dealings. I want to be a beacon for Christ in every thought, word, and deed. The difficult conversations will have to happen from time to time, but I have been called to be compassionate with every person placed in my path and in every conversation — as a speaker and as a listener.

Thought For The Day: Take a moment to reflect on a person or a situation that you continue to struggle with. How will a shift in your own approach change those circumstances? Ask Jesus to open the eyes of your own heart.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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