How do you think Paul, ‘the apostle of grace’, would have handled the following inquiry: ‘Dear Paul: We’re thinking about hiring Alexander the coppersmith as a company manager, and because you know him well, we’d appreciate your opinion.’ Knowing the problems Alexander had caused in the past (1 Timothy 1:19–20; 2 Timothy 4:14–15), how would Paul respond?
Or what about this one: ‘Dear Abraham: Lot has applied for a loan to expand his cattle property in the Jordan Valley near Sodom. So we’re writing to ask you for a character reference.’ Would Abraham, who was well aware of his nephew’s shady business practices (Genesis 13:11–13), be evasive and ‘fudge’ the facts to keep peace in the family? It’s doubtful.
Or what about this one: ‘Dear Apostle John: We need a mature Christian to fill a slot on our church board. Based on your dealings with Diotrephes, do you think he’s the right person?’ John knew the trouble Diotrephes had already caused and his need for power and control (see 3 John 1:9–10). But would he hedge and take the path of least resistance? Probably not; based on John’s existing forthright comments, he’d be honest all the way.
So, what would you do? Remember, the Bible says that love should always make us tell the truth. Following Christ means being honest when it would be easier to mislead and spin. Hopefully you’d find the courage to be straightforward—and gracious. Yes, gracious! Why? Because being asked for your input doesn’t give you a right to resurrect another’s mistakes and publicly embarrass them. The Bible says, ‘Let your conversation be gracious and effective.’ (Colossians 4:6 NLT)