Jump Start # 2688
Galatians 4:16 “Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
The Galatians were mixed up, confused and upside down about several things. This was caused by some strong Jewish influences that were trying to incorporate key points of the Old Testament law that they thought were vital. In many ways, they were trying to make the Gentiles Jewish before they became Christians. It seems that wherever Paul traveled, Jewish troublemakers followed. And, this caused Paul to go back and straighten out these things in these hearts.
Our verse comes from some of this “straightening out” that Paul had to do. And, in explaining why one cannot be under two laws at once and the place of circumcision, Paul was painted as the enemy. Our verse simply asks, “Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
Those words are something that comes to our minds in our culture today. There are a lot of things being said in the arena of race, prejudice, political discussions, violence, law enforcement and even social distancing and wearing masks. The current atmosphere of things rarely allows for honest discussion. If one disagrees on any of these items, he is deemed the enemy and all communication is shut down. I see this especially on social media. Multiple times I have read posts that are not factual, but the person states that if you disagree, you will be blocked and the person is not interested in hearing anything other than praise for their position. That is a sad place to be. Open discussion is healthy. It allows one to consider standpoints that he may not have thought of before. When we surround ourselves with just those who agree with us, they become nothing more than our cheerleaders and we do not allow ourselves to think clearly about important topics.
There was a time, not so long ago, that men who differed religiously would debate those principles in an open and monitored format. I have collections of religious debate books from years gone by. The spirit of our times today would not allow for many of those discussions. We’ve closed the door to anyone who does not agree with the way we think.
Now, give this some thought:
First, not even considering what an opposing thought might be sounds very arrogant. If one has the truth, then there is nothing to fear in hearing what others say. Truth rises to the top. Truth defeats all error. Truth is based upon investigation and facts. The volume one speaks, nor the number of people lined up in support does not determine what is right. This too is not understood today. On the national front, grab some high profile people who voice what you say and that is supposed to end all discussions. It doesn’t. And, shouting doesn’t make one right. It often ends the discussion, because who wants to engage in a shouting match? Listen to what others say. Read what others have written. Don’t drop your bucket only in the well of those who agree with you. This is true for us preachers. Don’t just read what our fellowship writes. Read what others say. Put some thought into where others stand. Then form your conclusions after you have looked at all the evidence carefully. Truth is truth, no matter who says it.
Second, pride will keep us from changing our minds. It is easy to get worked up emotionally and passionately about a topic and when we get all our friends to rally with us it is difficult to look at the truth truthfully. Some would rather be wrong, than have to swallow their pride and admit that their thinking was not clear. Religiously, this keeps some in error. Rather than admit that mom and dad were wrong spiritually, they will continue to believe something that the Bible does not teach because they do not want to admit that they or their parents were wrong. That pride will cause them to lose their soul. The only thing worse than being wrong, is knowing that one is wrong, but having too much pride to change.
Third, having an open mind and considering other views is not the same thing as tolerance or compromise. Some things are just wrong. Some things are plain dumb. Not everything can be accepted because not everything is right. Even though some may want to believe things that are wrong, that does not make them right. Paul said in Romans that the Gentiles exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Was the lie right? No. Was the lie a good second option? No. Was the lie helpful? No. Was there evidence to support the lie? No. Accepting what is wrong doesn’t make it right. There can be no tolerance for error. There can be no room for bending the truth of God’s word. Now, that makes one narrow. That makes one exclusive rather than inclusive. But we do this in other areas all the time. Suppose I go to the local hardware store and buy a board, three feet long for twenty dollars. Now, I pick out a four foot board saying it is a three feet. Right there, a disagreement begins with the hardware guy. He’ll put a tape measure to the board and show me that it is four feet long. Yet, I disagree with the tape measure. I don’t believe it’s right. At the checkout I hand the clerk a ten rather than a twenty. A ten is a twenty, I say. It’s not. I’m leaving that store with no board and the employees wandering how they let someone like me out on the streets. Standards—we have them all around us. Speed limits. Weights. Dollars. Time. You may not like them, but you cannot change them. That’s the way truth is. God’s word is true, Psalms 19 teaches. Jesus declared that “I am the truth.” You may not like it, agree with it and even want something different, but you cannot change it. I can live the rest of my life believing a ten dollar bill is the same as a twenty. I would be wrong. There is no place for tolerance of things that are not right. Who decides what is right? You? Me? The government? The will of the people? Or, the Lord who made us? It is God who determines what is right.
Standing for what is right, makes you an enemy of many people. And, people don’t like their enemies. Unlike what the Bible says, people do not pray for their enemies. They do not help their enemies. They want the enemies to be silenced and to go away. And, that leaves us with the options of either remaining silent about things, or enduring the consequences that some, including family, including friends, may not like us any more.
Have I become your enemy for telling you the truth?