How To Convince People To Change
Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: "The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell." So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. — Acts 15:22-32
So the result of this Jerusalem Pastoral Leadership Conference is a decision on a single matter. And the matter at hand is what has to be done for a believing Gentile to be accepted into the Christian community. But remember, this issue was raised because some believing Jews were teaching that Gentiles needed to be circumcised first in accordance with the Law of Moses. But the Jerusalem conference became a bigger discussion. It was a debate not just about circumcision but also about how to include new Gentile believers who were not only not circumcised but also had different practices regarding sex, worship, and eating. And of course, the Conference leaders came to a conclusion regarding all of this — which is:
- Salvation is provided by God's grace, not man's activity.
- The seal on man is the Spirit, not circumcision.
- When a man is sealed, he is willing to adjust his behaviors to God's will.
And as a result of all this discussion, a couple of things happened. First, the leaders in Jerusalem, who are predominantly believing Jews write a thoughtful letter circulates to the Gentiles in Antioch. Second, they send a couple of men as witnesses of this decision, so there's no debate among those who stirred up the controversy in the first place. And a result, it says that believing Gentiles "rejoiced."
The process here is very thoughtful. There is a presenting issue. The root issue is defined. They discuss the issue. They develop a godly position. They write a thoughtful note. They confirm it with witnesses. And the believing Gentiles receive it with gladness.
The problem I have is that I don't always do things in such a thoughtful way with those around me. And sometimes, I act just like the Jews who stirred up the controversy in the first place. I want a quick solution or something done my way, and when I do this, I tend to stir up a debate. And I may win the debate but damage my relationship with my wife, children, or a friend. And I will confess that this occasionally happens in my life. As I am sure, it does in yours.
So today, when you get irritated about something or someone, take a breath, listen longer, be considerate, deliver a godly response, and win the lost to God, not to your way or your opinion.
ASK THIS: Who is irritating you today?
DO THIS: Take a breath, listen longer, be considerate, deliver a godly response, and win the lost to God, not to your way or your opinion.
PRAY THIS: God, I am irritated with __________________. Help me to know how to respond to them in a godly way.
PLAY THIS: Give Us Clean Hands — Passion.
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