Day 49: Tone & Relationship & God's Word (Acts 20:17-38)
Today’s Passage: Acts 20:17-38
“Don’t take that tone of voice with me, young man!” Those were my mother’s words. Apparently, I had a knack as a child to communicate my dissatisfaction with a situation, not so much by words, as by the tone of those words—call it a gift.
Tone matters. We communicate it even when we don’t speak with our posture, expressions, and more.
Relationships matter. My mother’s call to correction was not random. She knew me well.
The reality is that because we know people, know their tones and attitudes, we can quickly conclude what point of view they are taking. Sometimes we do that too quickly.
What if we don’t know the person? How do we “hear them”? What filters or lenses do we put their spoken and non-spoken communication through?
Why do I ask?
Because I am wondering how you are hearing Paul today.
Are you hearing him as lecturing, bragging, or…desperately trying to make sure that as this is the last time that he will see them, that they are not led astray?
And I think how you hear this text is a function of your relationship with the text, and the person Paul. Yesterday I noted how he had spent two years with the Ephesians; how he loves them. This hit me between the eyes just as I had finished reading this Scripture, right after returning from a conference talk.
I was at a conference and I had listened to a speaker. Perhaps I was tired, or perhaps my “New York predispositions” were at work, but I had a mixed reaction. There were some points that I completely agreed with but, there were other parts of his message, when he was using his past experiences to make a point, that I did not react well to.
More than being bothered by what he said, I was bothered by my reaction. I was wondering why I was being so judgmental. I was especially aware of this because others were responding so positively. Then it dawned on me. They had a relationship with the speaker, and I did not.
I was hearing him through some of the filters that the world has conditioned me with, filters such as skepticism—I was hearing him through my prejudices.
Why my confession today? Because I want to ask you to consider this question, “How do you hear Scripture? How do we each hear God’s Word?”
At times I will hear people say, “Oh that is just St. Paul, he was uptight.” Or I will hear others say, “You know, that’s just the Old Testament”. That little word just communicating the idea that it is okay to ignore it.
Isn’t it all God-breathed? Isn’t it ALL the Word of God to his children?
That afternoon I came back, struggling with a speaker, and God in his mercy confronted me with this bit of text. He has taken me down a path to ask, “Which bits of Scripture do I not pay too much attention to? Which parts of Scripture am I judging the human writers, rather than hearing it is all from God?” In the end, “What tone am I taking, and if it is the wrong tone, then where is it that I need to deepen my relationship with God?”
How about you? Are there parts of God’s Word that might reveal a relationship opportunity between you and God?