You Can’t Know People if You Don’t Talk with Them

You-Can’t-Know-People-if-You-Don’t-Talk-with-ThemRead (Galatians 3)

Our neighbors are having an aluminum-topped canopy built above their boat slip. We know the guys working on the project because they built our porch and continue to do a lot of the sub-contracting in our neighborhood. The owner and the lead carpenter are always on the scene, but their laborers change regularly. My wife and I know many of them, but we can’t keep up. After a sweaty run the other day, one of the more recent “regulars” started chatting with me about the weather. “I saw you running way up the road, at the top of the hill,” (D) said. He smiled, continuing, “I think it’s cool you start your day like that.” I told him that running clears my head. It’s prayer, worship, and meditation time for me without distractions from my phone.

“Man, I like that! I get the same feeling when hunting or hiking,” (D) replied. He smiled, “I talk with God every chance I get. He is so good. So perfect.”

“…For no word from God will ever fail.”
Luke 1:37

The verse broadcasts the power and sovereignty of God, who can accomplish anything according to His will. It reminds us that no matter how difficult a situation may seem, we can trust God’s ability to work all things for good. It reminds us that our understanding or circumstances should never limit our faith in God. What seems impossible is not if we trust in God’s promises and have faith that He will see us through every challenge we face.

(D) is in his 30s with a bit of a wild past. His chest is covered with tattoos. In a different situation, he’s probably not someone I would go over and start talking to. Why not? Why do we base so much of our lives and comfort zones on what people sound or look like? When we act like the rest of the world, we go by outward things; when we act like Christians, we let the Holy Spirit inside us control our behavior. I always make a point to talk with everyone I meet. If nothing else, I do my best to lift people in conversation and offer a simple smile to lighten their day.

It was pretty hot that day, so I offered (D) a few bottles of water after my run. Our conversation migrated from the weather to Jesus so naturally, it was evidence of God in us. It was a fantastic display without awkwardness or prodding. This is the way we are all supposed to witness. Him to me, me to him. (D) continued, “I used to party. I used to drink a lot. I don’t touch it anymore. I found something better.” He talked more about his strong and beautiful faith in Jesus. “I used to know the Bible where I could recount specific verses off the top of my head. I don’t do that as well now, but I know what’s in the Bible.”

There was a spark in his eyes fueling this declaration. It was such an honest and authentic joy. Even though this short break from work turned into a long break, we had to keep talking! “I have changed so much,” he said. “I sin, no,” (D) corrected himself, “we all sin every single day. We wake up fresh every day, then sin again.” There was humble confidence in him as he shared his story with me. (D)’s account wasn’t anything to be proud of. No part of his journey made him look good, but it all gave God glory. It all pointed to Him. It made Him look good.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

All believers and many non-believers find hope in this passage. The phrase “whoever believes in him” highlights the importance of faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation. Through this faith, we have the assurance of eternal life and a close relationship with God. It is also a powerful reminder of God’s love and grace, encouraging us to respond by putting our faith in Jesus Christ and living a life that reflects our love for Him.

Tim Keller notes that the phrase “shall not perish but have eternal life” suggests two possible paths for humanity – one of perishing and one of eternal life. He argues that this is not just a matter of physical life and death, but a choice between a life lived for oneself and a life lived for God.

(D) recalled this promise from Jesus. “It’s so clear,” he said. “It’s the answer, not an answer. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have this belief in my life.” As (D) unfolded some aspects of his story, I wondered how often he tried and failed to right himself. How many times do we? With addictions like drugs, alcohol, sex, etc… we often try related substitutes to replace the happiness they bring. But nothing created can permanently substitute the highs of those temporary feelings. That’s why addicts have such high occurrences of relapses. Only the loving grace of God can replace the cravings pulling us back to those traps.

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
Philippians 1:27

Regardless of our circumstances, we are encouraged to be unified in our faith and to stand firm in our commitment to Christ, even when we face challenges or opposition. “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” reminds us that as followers of Christ, we are called to live our lives in a way that reflects God’s love, grace, and mercy.

“If I find that I’m committing the same sin over and over, I repent and turn it over to God. I’ve gotten down on myself for a lot of things in my life, but I know that in the long run, I am good. I’m good thanks to the blood of Jesus.” I didn’t ask him because I could see the hope (D) received from being washed in Christ’s blood.  “It’s wiped me clean,” he declared. “I’m so much better off now.”

Hearing (D)’s unprepared, water-side testimony reflected on the meaning of the phrase “live as a citizen.” It implies that, as Christians, we are citizens of the kingdom of God and should live our lives in a way consistent with this identity. Our behavior should be a witness to those around us. We are not called to live out our faith alone but to work together with other believers to spread the message of the gospel and build up the body of Jesus Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:28

The Galatian church comprised of Gentile converts to Christianity and Jewish Christians in modern-day Turkey. Paul’s letter was a response to a crisis in the church, which suggests that the church was experiencing challenges, struggles, confusion, and divisions. He admonished them to stop straying from the Lord and to live by the Spirit, not giving in to sinful desires. He encouraged them to love.

Unity is found in Christ. People are often divided by their ethnicity, social status, and gender, but in Christ we are equal. This verse doesn’t state that distinctions don’t exist but that they don’t matter in God’s eyes. Unity is not just a theoretical concept; it’s a real practice it should be lived out in the body of believers. When we see our shared identity in Christ, we are more likely to put aside our prejudices and love one another as Christ has loved us. Look at the original 12 disciples. They were people from drastically different backgrounds, all (but one) were unified to serve Christ. I also think of the 18-20 in our “small group” from all over the country with cultural, ethnic, and economic distinctions who are equal in our study and worship of God’s word.

What Paul wrote to the Galatians was not a liberal, conservative, or political statement. It is the direct result of the gospel and a bold statement about our equal value in the eyes of God.

The day after our chat, when (D) saw me, he hopped off his ladder and trotted over to me, shaking my hand with a warm greeting. “It’s good to see you today,” he said. We both grew from our conversation. We’re even better disciples today than we were yesterday because of being the people whom Christ made us. We are simply better because of ignoring boundaries and just talking.

In other words, the gospel gives us something that unites us greater than anything that divides us.
JD Greear

Key Applications

  1. Work harder at reaching out to brothers and sisters. The nature of the gospel message is inclusive. Recognize distinctions as differences, not markers of inequality.
  2. Live by the Spirit. Remember that Christ died once for our sins, so do your best to stop repeatedly putting Him on the cross. Pray daily this week for the strength to resist the temptation to desires you know are wrong.
  3. Love and serve one another as members of the same family.

Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.

Scroll to Top