Summary: The Holy Spirit allowed Paul to leave a legacy of diplomacy for all people to learn from. Paul left a record of how to approach men of authority with tact, respect and statesmanship.
Fifteen Tactful Tips Enabled by the Holy Spirit (Acts 26:1-26:28)
Illustration: Dave and his wife Sue were asked about the delicate art of constructive criticism. Sue said, "I think Christ’s example in John 1:14 is helpful. That verse describes Jesus as being ’full of grace and truth.’ I see a mother with her child. If the child has a dirty face, the mother doesn’t scold her for having a dirty face. She does the loving thing. She gets out the washcloth, and as she is gently applying soap and water she may say, ’My, what a dirty face you have! Tell me how you got your face so dirty.’ But all the time she is washing her child’s face. If I’m going to be honest with Dave, I need to be sure that I’m acting in loving, gracious ways—in a sense, getting out the washcloth—even while I’m talking about the dirt."
In Galatians 6:1, Paul also reflected a gentle and gracious attitude, showing us how we are to treat all people. When confronting others about their sin, let’s remember how gentle Christ is in showing us our own sins. Although we grieve Him when we fall, He is never bitter. He holds us accountable, yet supports us with His love. His convicting is kind and persistent, yet He is always quick to forgive.
When it’s necessary to criticize, let’s treat others the way Jesus treats us. (Our Daily Bread)
Father, help me live today
With thoughtfulness in what I say,
Confronting wrong with truth and fact
Expressing gentleness and tact. —Hess
1. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to exhibit diplomacy in our dealings with people just as He led Paul before King Agrippa. Paul, the apostle used tact, discretion and the skill of a diplomat to persuasively present His case before King Agrippa. Paul said, "King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews... I beg you to listen to me patiently." (Acts 26:2,3) Ask the Lord to give you excellent diplomatic skills in dealing with people inside and outside of your organization for God’s glory.
2. The Holy Spirit gave Paul great prudence in the content, delivery and organization of his presentation. Ask the Lord to give you meaningful substance, persuasive delivery and a well organized plan to present.
3. The Holy Spirit enabled Paul to show coolness under pressure. Dr. Luke wrote, "At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. ‘You are out of your mind Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane.’ I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What I am saying is true and reasonable." (Acts 26:24,25) Ask the Lord to help you maintain your emotional, mental and spiritual cool when criticized.
4. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to show respect to people without having to lose our dignity or integrity. Paul spoke in a complimentary fashion to the King. The great apostle showed respect for the King’s position without compromising his integrity, dignity or spiritual standing.
5. The Holy Spirit gave Paul great humility in speaking to the King without lacking any confidence. Ask the Lord to give you a genuine sense of humility as you speak the word of truth with great authority.
6. The Holy Spirit showed Paul how to use questions to bring home his main point while maintaining a diplomatic manner. Paul asked, "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do." (Acts 26:27) Ask the Lord to show you how to use informational, analytical, reflective, and application questions.
7. The Holy Spirit brought the necessary facts to Paul’s mind just when he needed them. Paul spoke with a well researched knowledge of the King’s culture, world view and principle concerns. Ask the Lord to help you recall essential facts that are more relevant to the people you are addressing.
8. The Holy Spirit showed Paul how to use the art and science of good communication theory. Paul used the art and science of dialogue in his presentation when he recalled, "Then I ask, Who are you Lord and what do you want me to do? Crucial questions throughout Paul’s presentation show brilliant timing to help bring emphasis to the most important truths. Ask the Lord to help you use both the art and science of good communication theory in your negotiations.
9. The Holy Spirit instructed Paul in how to use his Jewish heritage as a powerful testimony to God’s transforming power. Paul used his Jewish heritage as a significant reason for bringing groups as well as personal redemption to all peoples for the mutual benefit of all nations. Ask the Lord to help you bring together individual and group concerns in your diplomatic discussions.
10. The Holy Spirit granted Paul the grace to publicly admit his weaknesses, mistakes and wrong perceptions. Paul confessed his great mistakes and sins before King Agrippa to show how Christ rescued him from his own self-destructive behavior. Ask the Lord to allow you to use self-deprecating language to break down some barriers of resistance in people’s minds.