Why be cute when you’re already beautiful?



This was a time when I inadvertently showed you what not to do. My wife pointed it out to me when I read her yesterday’s Catch last night.

In yesterday’s Catch, I included a list summarizing Paul’s strategy in Acts 17, in approaching the Greek philosophers who dominated the Athenian marketplace. The first part of that list includes:

Observe the culture.

Find something you can compliment them on.

Find something you can agree with.

Find out what people are worshiping.

Ask how that’s going for them.

That last one, “Ask how that’s going for them,” is the culprit. It’s not in the text. It’s not even implied. It just popped in my head; I thought it was cool; I wrote it down without thinking. It is nothing but a smart ass statement that doesn’t belong there, and I make a point of it today not just by way of correction, but to show how tempting it is to subtly put down those who believe differently. And just to underline how tempting this is to do, I did it in the context of trying to make to opposite point. It completely erases what might have been accomplished by paying attention to the first four steps.

I tried to use sarcasm to show how I was superior to others who worship the wrong God. “So hows’s that going for you?” I said, totally ignoring and contradicting the very graciousness I was suggesting we exhibit.

Why did I put it in?

I had a friend who used to always say, “Why be cute when you’re already beautiful?” That question applies here because that’s exactly what I did. I had a beautiful argument going based on the strategy of Paul in reaching the people in the marketplace in Athens, and then I had to throw this in because I was trying to be cute. Bad idea.

When a person starts talking about their personal beliefs, the last thing you want to say is “So how’s that going for you?” It’s haughty. It’s arrogant. It’s stand-offish. It has nothing to do with putting your feet in the shoes of someone else. It’s judgmental. It’s everything I stand against.

So please strike that sentence and let’s get back to the rest of the list:

Look for something you can attach the message of the gospel to.

Look for what you can use from art, poetry, film, theater and the general culture.

Affirm, don’t condemn.

Embrace your own need while trying to point out theirs.

Don’t feel like you have to say everything you know in one hearing.

And whatever you do, don’t try to be cute.

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6 Responses to Why be cute when you’re already beautiful?

  1. Lisa in Sunland says:

    The comment you now wish to leave out did kind of remind me of Dr. Phil’s tag line, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” But that’s on his show where people have sought him out for help – it’s not at ALL in the context of forming a relationship. Good for you for this correction! And blessings on ya.

  2. Brilliant of your wife to “catch” that. I’m pretty sure I’ve made that comment a hundred times. Don’t really suspect that Jesus aske it quite that way… in fact, maybe it was the way He asked…

  3. Mark says:

    Absolutely love this verse: “Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone,
    doing everything I can to save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

  4. Well, John, it’s an all-too-human error and it probably occurs just as subtly and way more often to each of us than we may personally realize or even care to admit. I know I’m guilty!
    The fact, though, that you were “caught, convicted, and confessed” says volumes more than your cutesy insertion itself.
    Your admission of error reveals an honest character and true integrity.

    What I wrestle with is the old saying that you “can’t UN-see what you’ve already seen”.
    And it’s a ploy frequently used in court trials when an attorney attempts to sway the jury by revealing something not necessarily relevant as testimony or admissible as evidence.
    The judge will thusly order the attorney to cease their tangential argument, have the court reporter strike it from the record, and tell the jury to disregard what they’ve heard.
    The only problem is: the jury can’t UN-remember what they just heard or saw (unless they weren’t paying attention to begin with).
    What’s been said or seen is already planted in their minds (shrewd lawyers!) and it is up to them individually to sort through the testimonies, facts, hearsay, valid or invalid arguments.
    Has their judgement been tainted or compromised?
    I guess it depends on how honest they are with themselves and with others.

    Relating the above to these last two Catches:
    Since you’ve written about it, it is now harder for me to “strike that sentence” from memory because we’ve all now been exposed to it twice (yesterday and today).
    But, that’s okay. It’s a teachable moment that enhances the original intended lesson.

    While your insertion was, for the most part, innocuous, it is a really good reminder for all of us to actively employ the filters of Grace and Wisdom when it comes to what we see, hear, think about, and react to.
    Sometimes, though, we have no choice as to what we’re exposed to.
    Therefore, we need to again engage the filters of Grace and Wisdom in what we process, relay, express, display, and/or respond to.
    So, before we do anything – and especially in this day and age where the rules of engagement are “there are no rules” – we as professed followers of Christ must, with the Holy Spirits guidance: scrutinize our thoughts (and the motives behind them), guard our tongues, and behave in such a manner as Lincoln would say, “with charity for all and malice toward none”.

    There’s another old saying but it’s just as time-tested, tried and true today:
    THINK before you speak (or act).
    It’s a maxim I’m still attempting to follow – and not always successfully, either!
    Shalom… 🙂

  5. kellief4 says:

    Now that is funny. I actually took it as a humorous thing, but you are right, definitely not the way to end a conversation with someone. However, asking them how things are going in a way that will get them to talk to you, now that would be a useful way to continue the conversation. Thanks for pointing this out!

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