Summary: Humility is a key ingredient to any successful relationship. Paul shows us how to take relationships to a higher level

How Paul’s Humility Helped Maintain Relations

(Acts 21:17-26)

Illustration:I am the least of the apostles. 1 Corinthians 15:9

I am the very least of all the saints. Ephesians 3:8

I am the foremost of sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15

Humility and a passion for praise are a pair of characteristics which together indicate growth in grace. The Bible is full of self-humbling (man bowing down before God) and doxology (man giving praise to God).

The healthy heart is one that bows down in humility and rises in praise and adoration. The Psalms strike both these notes again and again. So too, Paul in his letters both articulates humility and breaks into doxology. Look at his three descriptions of himself quoted above, dating respectively from around A.D. 59, 63, and 64. As the years pass he goes lower; he grows downward! And as his self-esteem sinks, so his rapture of praise and adoration for the God who so wonderfully saved him rises.

1. Have you ever wondered how to maintain a relationship with someone who seems stuck in traditions?

Paul demonstrates how a little humility preserves good relationships? The great apostle knew that he was no longer under the law, but chose to practice prudence in maintaining relationships with the Jewish advocates of the Law. Learn how not to contend with people without compromising essential principles.

Pick your battles carefully.

Ask the Lord to help you do what you can to maintain relationships with people who have a different viewpoint.

Illustration:Hudson Taylor was scheduled to speak at a Large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as "our illustrious guest." Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, "Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master."

W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, p. 243.

2. Paul practiced tolerance of the observing of the Law by those who were culturally conditioned in its practice.

Ask the Lord to help you be a wise student of culturally conditioning. Love is patient, kind and does not demand its own way.

3. Paul was a wise student of human nature. Some personalities will insist on their own way out of immaturity, but will later come to appreciate the love of a harmonizer.

Trust the Lord to help you learn how to discern the hot buttons of each individual so as to not destroy relationships over a non-consequential matter.

4. Paul was as wise as a serpent, but innocent as a dove. The great church planter knew that bringing change required a generous application of wisdom and gentleness.

Ask the Lord to help you exercise great wisdom with a gentle manner to maintain healthy relationships with everyone.

5. Paul showed appreciation, respect and consideration for the Jews. None could see Paul as anti-Semitic in any way if they knew how he bent over backwards in relating to traditional Jews.

Ask the Lord for the humility to express appreciation, respect and consideration of the people you are ministering with.

6. Paul showed the importance of maintaining a mutual experience with people who were important to him. When we are willing to participate in experiences with people in things that are important to them they cherish our friendship.

Ask the Lord to help you involve yourself with people on their turf for the sake of good relationships.

7. Paul showed an appreciation of history, traditions and commitments. When Paul practiced the thirty-day Nazarite vow he demonstrated a sacrificial spirit by shaving his head, offering the proper sacrifices and abstaining from certain foods.

There may be many things that require a sacrifice but keeping a good relationship is worth the price.

Ask God for the grace to sacrifice for friendships.

8. Paul understood the importance of maintaining good spiritual, political and social alliances.

The great apostle knew that he could not operate as a lone wolf.

Ask the Lord to help you maintain a vital network of spiritual, social and political alliances.

9. Paul knew that if he humbled himself before the mighty hand of God he would be lifted up. Paul practiced humility for the Lord’s sake not just to appease people’s anger.

Ask the Lord to practice your humility to the Lord more than to men.

10. Paul practiced certain concessions to the prejudices of the immature.

Paul let love be the guide in not getting upset with some who were not on his level of Biblical maturity.

Ask the Lord to help you be willing to humbly go along with certain activities to maintain vital connections with those who are less mature in the faith.

11. Paul observed the law without diluting his message of salvation by faith alone in Christ.

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