I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when we concluded our phone conversation. Even though I'd had the opportunity to tell my friend about the Gospel, I was crushed to think of the way I'd done it. Why did I not ask more questions instead of "preaching"? Why didn't I inquire about what she thought about who God is? Did I communicate condemnation or hope? I tried to remember what had been said. I couldn't remember much but it felt like there were more wrong things I'd done than good.
As I continued to rehearse the conversation, I prayed, "Oh, Lord, somehow use for good all my inadequacies. I know you love her but since I'm representing you, I want to represent you well."
My thoughts turned to Paul's comments in I Corinthians 4. Let's look at some verses.
Paul doesn't jump into self-contempt like I do. He seeks God's opinions and judgments. I think so many of us depend upon our self-evaluations rather than looking to God for His perceptions of what happened.
We jump into our own evaluations and we conclude that what occurred wasn't the best. But we don't know what our friend needs to hear. So don't judge your wording based upon their response. They may not even know what they want and need.
So many times, I've followed up on a conversation (I did that just yesterday) and apologized for what I said. Most of the time (like yesterday!) the other person looks quizzically at me and says, "Oh, I don't remember that." Or, "No, I didn't think anything bad of it when you said that." I had been all upset rehearsing what I said, but my friend wasn't!
Evidently Paul's opponents in Corinth are saying those things about him, so he is responding sarcastically here. He is making light of their opinion of him because he doesn't mind being seen that way. That's the best part for us! We don't have to mind it either!
I think Paul's perspective can help us. If we are afraid of appearing as fools when we speak of the Lord, we might want to examine our hearts. We could evaluate whether our self-contempt is because we fear looking foolish or silly or unintelligent or... What do you fear being seen as?
stupid. I don't know that my friend thinks that way about me, but I fear it regardless. And then I start giving myself contempt.
Yet, what is the truth? Paul states the truth earlier in this letter, "But we have the mind of Christ" (2:16). That's the truth, not the contemptuous lies that we're heaping upon ourselves like,
- "I'm stupid."
- "I can't believe I said that; now what does she think?"
- "If she doesn't come to know Christ, it's all my fault."
To discard the lies, we need to seek the truth in the Bible.
needed in some way for the benefit of that person.
If you've had a similar experience or reaction, would you share with us? It'll be an encouragement to me and my readers.