‘Paul’s Parting Shot’ is probably a poor caption for this Bible Bite and somewhat misleading. There’s a certain smugness we can hardly conceal when we ‘have the last word’ in a heated debate. We may even gloat over the way we ended a tense discussion – our big parting shot!

“Well, my last word to him before he stormed out was.”  or,

“I sent her a very up-front email to let her know just where I was coming from. There was nothing ambiguous about it. She sure wouldn’t have to read between the lines. I closed it off with….”

With what?

  • A one line zinger?
  • a sharp retort?
  • a stinging reply?
  • a smart-aleck goodbye?

Some people love to share privately (and, a few – publicly) – their big war stories – almost bragging.

Sadly, when we are under attack or being accused or trying to take a stand for something, to our shame, we sometimes respond inappropriately.

How did Christ respond? “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1Peter 2:23)

As for the Apostle Paul, he was being undermined by false teachers. His authority was being questioned, his motives were under attack and division in the ranks had erupted in Corinth. Paul writes them a second letter and, rather than concluding it with a one-line-zinger that smugly said “gotcha,” his parting shot or rather, his last word to them was full of Godly dignity and grace.

He said everything he needed to say to set the record straight but with such a gracious spirit. The ‘hot-under-the-collar’ stuff that sometimes spews from our mouth as molten lava or from our flaming fingertips was missing. Here’s his parting shot:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2Corinthians 13:14

With all their problems, what did those Christians need? Grace, love and fellowship! Do you think Paul would be able to sleep well that night or would he be twisting and turning on his mattress, wishing he could change the last line? Do you think he furiously ran up the road trying to catch the postal worker to retrieve the letter? Was his heart seized with panic as he realized the hurtful and damaging affects of his last word? No. His conscience was clear.

The reality of Paul’s intimacy with Christ was reflected time and time again in the gracious way he dealt with situations that would have naturally provoked and produced attack-language.  But let’s face it – there’s nothing spiritual about any other kind of a response. If it’s not gracious – it’s carnal.

Do you have a parting shot or a one-line-zinger that felt good at the time but now is haunting you? Do you have anyone in your Contacts to whom you need to say: ‘Sorry!” Confess your hasty and hurtful word today to the Lord and then make it right with your friend.

“Lord today may I appreciate more of the humility and grace of my Saviour in dealing with others; may I be thrilled once again to think of the unfathomable riches of Your love and in turn, show love to others; and may the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer, operate fully in my life today as the common bond that has eternally tied me to every other Christian. Help me to appreciate that we are ONE in Christ.”

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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