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What the Bible says about Godly Diplomacy
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Acts 17:22

If we read between the lines, Paul may be saying, "You people are better than I am in your devotion to spiritual things."

Instead of "religious," the King James Version uses the word "superstitious," which has undergone what linguists call "semantic drift." In Shakespeare's day and King James' time, this word did not have the negative association as it has now.

From the context of the account in Acts 17, it becomes quite clear that the apostle Paul was not, as some Protestant theologians like to characterize him, a feisty, wrangling, argumentative hothead. If that were the case, the philosophers of Athens, who vastly outnumbered him, could have made short work out of this smart aleck. Obviously, from their attention to his speech, they did not think of him this way.

David F. Maas
Godly Tact and Diplomacy

1 Corinthians 9:19-22

Does this mean that Paul would compromise with God's law under special circumstances? Absolutely not! Does he endorse "situation ethics"? Absolutely not! Does Paul embrace syncretism? Absolutely not!

Paul understands that we need to guard and protect jealously certain core beliefs such as God's laws and statutes, which we hold as non-negotiable. But we find a rather wide variety of marginal beliefs (such as choice of music, automobile, food, clothing, etc.) upon which we can compromise without sin.

The apostle Paul had a keen sense of what part of his belief structure was negotiable and what was not. He had the knack to make things that he and other people agreed upon to seem like mountains and those he and others disagreed upon seem like molehills.

In I Corinthians 6:12, He expresses the realization that just because something was lawful does not mean it is the thing to do—especially if it will offend someone. In Romans 14, Paul sets some guidelines on dealing with marginal issues. If becoming a vegetarian or a teetotaler for a day proves the price of peace and not offending, he considers it a small price to pay.

David F. Maas
Godly Tact and Diplomacy


 




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