Tag Archives: Paul

Jesus-Speakers and Paul-Writers: The Power of Words

I’ve never been good with the spoken word. I was deathly shy in high school, speaking as little as possible, except to my closest friends and family. In college I loosened up, got a little more comfortable in my own skin, and began to converse more easily with others. However, I was still ridiculously shy in the classroom setting, doing all in my power not to be called on (lest my face turn so bright red that others would stare and possibly worry about my health).

After college, I married a man (www.chipmattis.com) who is a master of words. In fact, after participating in a church class, our pastor coined him as The Word Jedi, since he always knew just how to pronounce the hard Bible words and always knew how to articulate what was on his mind.

My fantastic, Word Jedi husband is my go-to person when I need to make an important phone call. When we moved to a new town and found a great doctor for the kids but she wasn’t taking new patients, for example.

The nurse told me “sorry, she’s not taking new patients” and I said, “okay, thanks anyway.” My husband, on the other hand, called back and heard “sorry, she’s not taking new patients” but HE thought not yet, that is… and ta-da!

All three kids were new patients by the next day.

Questions concerning confusing medical bills and insurance? I hand him the phone and suddenly everyone is on our side. It’s simultaneously maddening and amazing.

He is the perfect husband for me in part because I can rest assured social situations will always be easier with him nearby. He balances me out and has served as a great example to me, inspiring me to become bolder and more confident in my in-person interactions.

I, on the other hand, have always been more comfortable with the written word. There’s a quote by Flannery O’Conner that hits the nail square on the head. She said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Exactly!

Whenever important issues come up with important people in my life, I always prefer email. And no, not because it’s too intimidating to have serious conversations face to face (which it sort of is, but that’s beside the point…), but because I have to see my words in print to be able to think through what I’m trying to say before I officially say it.

It’s the only way for me to communicate effectively and be sure I’m saying all that I intend to say.

Some people are natural-born talkers. They can have difficult conversations in their sleep and not lose focus or forget what they were going to say.

I am not those people. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even from the same planet as those people.

Do words have power? Absolutely, not doubt about it.

Are words more powerful when spoken or written? Well, just look for a moment at the New Testament.

First we have Jesus himself, who is well known for his crowd-gathering preaching and parables. He was a spoken word man through and through. Powerful? Um, yes… Jesus and all.

And then we have Paul, the author of much of the New Testament. Did you catch that word there? I’ll say it again. Author.

I’m sure Paul did his share of speaking as he traveled around starting churches and sharing the message of Jesus. But what do we know him for today? His writing!

Paul is one of my favorite authors of all time because he demonstrates so clearly the power of the printed word.

I’m sure we are in agreement that there is power in both the spoken and written word.

But when it comes to present day personal interactions? The effectiveness of spoken vs. written word definitely depends on who you are.

Now, there are certainly merits to conversing in person, including making it easier to give someone else the benefit of the doubt, which I go into detail about in my last blog post: https://www.jessiemattis.com/2018/09/21/giving-god-the-benefit-of-the-doubt/ .

But there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how people best interact with one another.

I mean, really. What if Paul decided he needed to follow Jesus’s example exactly and so only preached to those in his vicinity? (Although there could be records of Jesus writing letters that I’m just not aware of.) Thank goodness Paul recognized his gift of writing and was able to utilize his parchment and quill to make such far-reaching contributions to eternity!

Let’s allow ourselves to embrace our “spoken word” self or our “written word” self without feeling like we should be one or the other. God created both types of people and will use us each for his great purposes. Isn’t that the main point after all?

Do you relate more to Jesus or Paul’s preferred communication style? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below. And if you’d like to receive future posts directly to your inbox, please zip over to the “subscribe” button and leave me your email address! Thanks for reading!

What I Want To Do I Do Not Do…

A few days ago my ten year old daughter got frustrated with herself. Not to say it’s an uncommon occurrence, but this time what she said struck me.

“I never seem to do what I want to do and I always do what I don’t mean to do!” she announced with a growl of frustration.

I immediately heard the voice of the Apostle Paul in my head and rushed to my Bible to find the famous passage. Finding it hard to let a teachable moment go by, I told my daughter about Paul’s words and tried to help her realize that EVERYBODY feels that way sometimes.  Even Paul – the very same guy who wrote most of the New Testament and did tons of amazing things for God! She already knows a lot about Paul; she’s been hearing and reading about him since she was young.  This passage was new to her though:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing…Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”                                                                                         –Romans 7:15, 18-19, 25

My husband and I spend a lot of time trying to help our children learn it’s okay not to be perfect. For some reason, with our oldest daughter especially, there seems to be this innate feeling that they should be perfect. We tell them that it’s impossible to be perfect, nobody’s perfect, and they shouldn’t expect themselves to be perfect. That it’s good to strive to be the best we can be, but that all we can do is try our best and keep moving forward even when we make mistakes.

I usually get the feeling our oldest doesn’t believe us. That somehow she thinks she COULD be perfect if only she tried hard enough. I hope reading this passage freed her from that unrealistic expectation a little bit. I hope the knowledge that somebody as faithful as Paul had the same internal struggles released her to begin finding rest in the grace God offers us so freely.

There’s another thing I assured her…she’s going to feel like that off and on for the rest of her life. I didn’t say that to discourage her, rather to encourage her not to dwell in that place of frustration. To reassure her that even though we make mistakes and have struggles it doesn’t disqualify us from being the best we can be and even ministering to the rest of the world.

 

Take Paul, for instance.  He was famous for persecuting Christians. He was greatly feared by the early church. And then he fell in love with Jesus, his Savior, and he did a 180. He decided to spend the rest of his life serving the Lord and preaching the good news of salvation to anyone who would listen.  Thank goodness he didn’t give up on himself with disgust at his tainted past. He didn’t wait until he had everything completely figured out or until he felt he was “good enough.” He moved forward with his new life immediately and made one of the biggest impacts on the world of anyone ever. Why? Because he knew, better than most, of the powerful saving grace of God – the free gift of eternal life for those who choose to accept it and give their hearts to God. Without it, he would have been a cold, miserable man for the rest of his life.

If Paul can choose Jesus and do big things for God, all the while struggling with his imperfections, what’s keeping us from doing the same? Who’s to say what sort of impact we could have if we stopped feeling frustrated and guilty about all the things we want to do but don’t do, and do but don’t want to do?

I would much rather choose to hand my frustration and guilt over to God, since he so generously offered to take it off my shoulders.  If we tried that, we might even find that we’re free to move forward and make a difference in our world regardless of our mistakes and imperfections. Just like Paul.