Tact and Diplomacy

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries1 Minutes

The US State Department defines diplomacy as “the art and practice of conducting negotiations and maintaining relations between nations.” Paraphrasing this definition, diplomacy means working with people to achieve desired results.

All of us engage in a variety of personal interactions with people in the world as well as with fellow believers. Paul’s letter to Philemon may be seen as a model of diplomacy in action.

Paul’s challenge was convincing his friend Philemon to welcome back Onesimus, a runaway slave Philemon had owned, but who had become a Christian. Paul’s goal was to persuade Philemon to welcome him back as if nothing had happened.

Paul started by placing God at the center of the relationship. This was a way to create a spiritual context for the dialogue. He also reminded Philemon of his own commitment as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (v. 1).

Then, Paul made his appeal. He wrote clearly, demonstrating how Philemon would benefit from agreeing with Paul. He reminded Philemon of the debt he owed Paul personally, but there never was any sense of humiliation, defeat, or surrender. Granting this request would not harm Philemon. It simply was the right thing to do.

The Bible is filled with examples of tact in action, principles that can help us know what to say and when to be silent.

Ask God to give you insights you can apply in your interpersonal relationships.