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The Dance: Compassion and Truth in Relationships: Paul Miller

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 7, 2023 5:15 am

The Dance: Compassion and Truth in Relationships: Paul Miller

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 7, 2023 5:15 am

Ever wondered in a relationship whether it's a time for truth—or compassion? Pulling inspiration from Jesus' example, author Paul Miller relays personal stories and insights, underscoring the importance of truth in fostering intimacy, growth, and transformative connections. Grab tips to navigate tough conversations with grace, embrace vulnerability, and harness the power of honest feedback to deepen your relationships.

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Honesty is good, but a lot of people don't like it. You know, they don't sort of wake up in the morning and say, Oh, thank you for that rebuke. I just have felt pride going in my heart all day. And I just, I really needed that rebuke. Thank you.

You know, that you don't hear that too often. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. I would say one of the hardest dances, but it's a really needed dance in marriage, is the balance between love and truth, grace and truth. I agree. That's probably true in any part of your life.

But loving each other, but being honest and truthful, and sometimes that's hurtful at the same time. I think we can err on either end, for sure. Yeah, and so I think we all need coaching. If anybody needs coaching, we need coaching. We have a good coach with us today.

Yeah, we've got Paul Miller back in the studio. Not only do you know how to live this out, you've written about it and you're a teacher of this. I really feel like I'm sitting at the feet of someone that can mentor us. And it's a joy to have you here, Paul. Thank you.

It's good to be here. Yeah, we've had some amazing discussions. You've written a book about sort of how Jesus did this called Love Walked Among Us, Learning to Love Like Jesus. We've already discussed the eyes of Jesus that struck you when you walked through the Gospels, how he looked. And I just got to say, I know we talked about that yesterday, but that hit me so strongly when I was reading your book. It's like, I don't think I look enough at people. And again, we don't want to belabor that, but have you ever done this? I like turn my eyes away on purpose because I know if I look, I'll feel and I'll need to act, especially a neighbor or stranger. It's just like, I don't want to see that need. If I don't look, I won't see it. Jesus did the opposite.

Yeah, he's really remarkable. Kind of the second big thing that is in the book that struck me about Jesus, in addition to his compassion, is his honesty, just what you were saying, Dave. There's dinners in Luke 7, 11, and 14. And in each one of them, Jesus openly insults his guests.

It's not a thing you're supposed to do when you're a guest at somebody's house. Especially when you're the Messiah. Like in Luke 14, when all the guests are taken their seats, he notices that they're hunting for the better seat. And Jesus tells them, if you really want the better seat, if you want to get seen, you should really get the lower seat.

Then when the host comes in, then he'll make you move up and you'll look good. It's actually kind of a fun piece of advice, but he comments openly on their behavior. And most of us do that quietly. Or do it with somebody else. Or bring it up as a prayer request in a Bible study. Can you believe he sat there?

Yeah. And then he tells the host, next time he has a banquet, who he should invite. I mean, we forget that Jesus is there eating this guy's falafel or pizza or whatever he had. And he tells the host, next time he has a banquet, that he should invite the poor and the lame and the blind. Because what he's doing by inviting his friends is it looks like loving, but they're going to invite him back. So it's really just a non-taxable exchange.

And so you're not going to get any reward. And he's teaching everybody in the room to love. But don't you know that you're a guest here? You know what I mean? No one who was normal was that bold. And his boldness struck me, his rudeness. And what I was measuring when I said that, and I knew it, was not Jesus' rudeness, but my commitment to looking nice and my wanting approval. And I knew something was wrong with my honesty, that I checked my honesty, because after a while you learn that honesty is good, but a lot of people don't like it. They don't sort of wake up in the morning and say, oh, thank you for that rebuke. I just have felt pride going in my heart all day. And I really needed that rebuke.

Thank you. You don't hear that too often. Usually people kind of come back at you. And so compassion has a cost. Honesty also has a cost. Particularly in close relationships, we don't want to bear that cost. Or we keep the lid on our honesty so tight that the only way we can get out is use the sort of anger as sort of gunpowder to blow open the lid. And then we vent. So we kind of go from stuffing to dumping.

And don't learn that interior balance. I mean, this is so true in marriage. Well, and I should say we're probably more honest in our marriage, but with friends that we don't even know that well, we want people to like us.

Yeah. And there's nothing wrong at one level with that desire, but that desire becomes central. So when there's an honest word that might be needed, we pull back and don't give it. And Jesus' honesty characterizes the early church. I mean, it's really striking. I mean, think of Philippians 4, where Paul writes in an open letter to the entire congregation that these two women, would they stop quarreling.

We would never do that openly. And you know, everybody in the congregation of Philippi knows this is going on. It actually outs the problem.

And the whole letter gives them a solution, which is they need to die like Jesus died to their own opinions. But that kind of bold honesty runs all through the Gospels. Now, have you had to speak honestly, be honest in your marriage or in your life that you can remember? Well, our worst stories on this was when Jill and I went dancing.

And let me put it this way. We went to a dance studio. Jill danced and I tried to dance. Wait, did you take lessons? We took lessons. Yes.

Ballroom lessons. Look at you go. Yeah. And I have a pretty good memory. I could remember what you were supposed to do, but Rhythm and I don't really connect. You know, it's just there's no relationship. You know, I just I can't even clap and sing at the same time.

That's how bad it is. OK. And my wife didn't know all the steps, but has really good rhythm. So we got dancing. It was this old ballroom. And we were there with Jill's brother and sister-in-law. So we got out there and I got off beat and Jill started leading me and I got irritated at her.

And she walked off the stage. So, hmm, so much for intimacy. I mean, it was just an open ballroom kind of thing.

You know what I mean? I think you had to be on Medicare to be there. Most people were. And now that I'm on Medicare.

So, but I was studying Jesus at the time. So the next day we went out for a walk and I did that incarnation thing of looking, just stepping in her shoes and say, Jill, what upset you about yesterday? You know, you get angry all the time. So she gave me an earful. And I had never thought, I mean, the only thing I was thinking about was how she led me and not my anger.

And just to be thinking about my anger. And I just kept asking her more questions. And I saw myself through her eyes in a way I hadn't before. In other words, I began with compassion. You know, I knew that's where you started. So by going into her world and just learning. And I needed, so I drew out her honesty.

And I remember we were sitting on the curb just listening and I was learning things about myself that I hadn't really thought of. And then it was several hours later, I said, Jill, it would have been easier if you had just told me I was offbeat instead of leading us. And she wasn't happy with that, but that wasn't, I mean, the goal of honesty is a gift and the person doesn't have to receive it. It's okay just to be honest with a one sentence honesty. It's such a beautiful picture of intimacy.

Yeah. Because you're sharing, it's gutsy to ask, what were you feeling? What was going on? Because you're noticing, like I know when Dave notices or asks me a question or says, tell me more about that. I become like a pool of tears because you want to know. So for you then to be honest and say to give her what you were feeling, it's such a beautiful picture of marriage.

The beauty of marriage. At the same time, here's another thought when you said it's a picture of intimacy, if you're honest and the person doesn't receive it, it feels like the opposite of intimacy. It feels like we just now, I said something, did something that creates distance.

You didn't receive it? I shouldn't have said it. You know, you can feel that even though I think I was just trying to be honest and love you. I mean, when your wife said that to you, when you asked her and she told you, you get angry a lot, you didn't respond in anger. You didn't get defensive, you received it.

That's intimacy, but often that's not the response. That took me 18 hours though until I got to that point. Did it? Well, because we had danced that night and it was the next evening. Okay, so you took some time. Yeah, yeah.

I usually need a little time to get oriented, you know what I mean? To understand a little bit where my heart is. But what you said there, Dave, was really good because it is what a lot of people do when they give the gift of honesty and the other person doesn't want it. They regret giving the gift, but it's a gift.

We need one another to speak truth into our lives. And it doesn't mean that what I'm saying, what the other person is saying is true. But when someone pushes the gift away, that does not mean the honesty was wrong. Jesus is honest because he is both mercy and justice. But isn't it in our human nature, if we were rejected, well, I'm not going to give you my honest heart again.

For you, you would do it again because? We're fallen creatures and compassion focuses on the person. Honesty focuses on the truth. If you're all compassion, then your relationship is just going to be a mush. If you're all honest, it's going to be harshness. So, you could say that speaking the truth protects you from becoming a codependent and compassion, you know, protects you from being domineering. Either one, either person. Does that make sense?

Yeah, yeah. You'll see in some of the more complex conversations that Jesus has, like that one in Luke 7 with Simon, the complexity, the way Jesus blends his honesty and compassion together is just kind of breathtaking. Because he really takes time with Simon in Luke 7 by telling him in that parable about one guy who had 500 denarii and 50, asking Simon a question about it. He pulls Simon away from the world of the woman because a parable pulls you out of one world and puts you in another world. So, it pulls the emotion down. So, he's being kind to Simon. And then he rebukes him openly in front of all the guests and said, you know, and gives them these three body blows.

You know, I don't know what to call them. You didn't greet me with a kiss. She hasn't stopped greeting me. You didn't put oil on my head and she's pouring perfume on my feet.

You didn't wash, you know, you didn't wash my feet and she's washed my feet with her tears. And she does this in front of all the guests. I mean, it's this powerful honesty. And he honors this woman that everybody else despises.

So, he brings up this woman and brings down this proud man. And like you said, it's a real gift. Yeah, it's a gift. I mean, to everybody in the house and to all of us now.

And he even said, this story will be talked about and we're doing it right now, you know, decades, years later. It's a real gift. But I think you have to have the humility to receive it as a gift because it will make you so much better, so much like Christ. Yeah. If you'll receive it. If you don't.

Yeah. But back to the person who gave the gift, I have a low expectation as to how people will receive honesty. But I have a high expectation over time that if I am honest about something, where there's truth that needs to be said in the relationship, then if I keep bringing it up, pacing it, so maybe it's once a month, bringing it up, and it's just short little things that it's words that the Spirit can use in that person's life. I feel like in my own life, people that have spoken truth to me has been one of the greatest gifts that I've ever received.

Because it's changed me. It's made me look inward and ask God, is this true? Yeah. And then to lay it before him, I think that that can be an amazing gift if it's done in love. Yeah, yeah. I mean, another aspect that you write about in the book is not just looking and feeling compassion, speaking the truth, but a dependence on God in the middle of that.

What's that all about with love? It is the third, for me, most striking feature of Jesus is his complete and utter dependence on his Heavenly Father. When we do our prayer seminars, I write out on the iPad, which goes on the screen, you know, I do nothing on my own. I do just what I see my Father doing. And I ask people that this was overheard by a young guy in his 20s who said this, what would your concerns be? And people, I encourage them to put on their Christian judging hats and people.

Pretty good at that. And they'll talk about, you know, the guy's kind of a weird relationship with his dad, you know, a little too dependent. And it's actually a quote from John 519. And it's actually Jesus' self-description of how dependent he is on his Heavenly Father.

And it's a description of his will, how submitted it is. And the will, it was one of the hardest things to see in love is how strong my will is. Like, if my wife has been overly critical of me, or I mean, you could flip this either way. And what I hear down in my soul is, you are my unworthy husband.

With you, I am not well pleased. You know, then that shapes my will. And my will, my will says, I refuse to let you treat me that way. And so then I have to lash out in honesty. And so what happens is honesty then becomes a weapon that I bludgeon her with. And it's that will, maybe I need the humility that comes from her at times maybe being overly critical of me. Maybe my soul needs that because I am overly proud.

And actually, that's true. You know, our family, we were Oregon pioneers and German sailors in the merchant marine. We were very independent Westerners, you know, very self-sufficient. And so what I need most of all is to realize that like Jesus, I can't do life on my own. So the problem with the will is that internal demand that so much, it's us. We can't even just pull away from us.

It's so strong. Here's a quick example of this in a non-marriage situation. But as I was chewing on this and beginning to see how strong my will was, Kim had come down stairs to the first floor with a stack of her Richard Scarry books. She was like 10, 11 years old. And this is your daughter that's disabled.

Yeah, it's our daughter with disabilities. And she wasn't speaking, but she signed to me to help her. She wanted to go down to the basement and watch TV and read her books.

So I grabbed her books and I was following her down. And she was carrying a box of crayons. And halfway down the basement steps, they spilled. She was kind of going down on her seat. It would have been too hard for her to walk and to hold the crayons.

And they spilled. And because I was thinking of that, my will means, like even my will to help was so strong. I did the Jesus thing and I called the Jesus question, Kim, do you want me to help you? And to my everlasting surprise, she said no. And by the way, helping you was help you pick up the crayons. So I just sat at the top of the stairs and watched her pick up crayons.

And it was slow. I mean, for her to pick up a whole tin of crayons. And it was probably one of the first times that my will was checked. And again, it was a will to do good. But it was my will was so strong, bent on, because I really did want to help her. But also I have a passion for efficiency and effectiveness. And you know what I mean? And I can run over people, even in wanting to do them good.

And it's something I have to wrestle with every week. And it's slowing down the interior life and not running over people. And what was it like to sit on the top of the steps? You know, Jesus meets me there. It's a mini fellowship of his sufferings.

I'm quoting Philippians 3 10. It's an okay place to be. Just still and being still. And Kim gets the respect of a question as opposed to I'm always her helper. So, if you see me with Kim out in public, you'll see Kim open doors for me. And I do that because Kim and I, we've talked about it. It's good for exercise for Kim.

So, actually, it's kind of a joke between Kim, open there. Come on, you can do it. Push. And I look like this world most selfish guy. But it's just part of, you know, it's a sweetness of her becoming a person. I'm listening to this thinking, one, I need to slow down. Two, I need to be quiet more.

These are all the things I've been trying to tell her. I'm serious. Like, Paul, you're pausing. You're listening. You're waiting before you say something. You're looking.

You're looking. These are things in a busy society, in a busy culture, in a busy life. As a mom, you're having a job.

You've got kids. You're trying to get dinner on the table. We're so rushed.

We try to be so efficient that so often we're missing these momentous occasions of connecting to our Father. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, it's like we're missing life. Yeah. You know, there's this sense, Paul, sitting with you that you've lived a few years and you've learned how to love. Yeah.

You know, not just book titles. You've actually learned. And I'm not, of course, you would say you're the first to say you're still learning, but it's like wisdom to us young guys.

No, it's like wisdom to my generation, the next generation. It's like, just slow down. Even, like, don't listen to this podcast on 1.5 or two times fast. That's what we do, just because we don't have time to listen to it at normal speed. Now you need to live life at normal speed and look and feel and pause and depend on God, and your life will be so much richer. Can I close with one of my favorite stories on Jesus?

Sometimes slower is better. Yikes. Who's listening to this right now on 1.5? Dave Wilson got you, didn't he? Well, hang on, because Paul is going to share one of his favorite stories on Jesus here in just a second.

I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Paul Miller on Family Life Today. Paul has written a book called Love Walked Among Us, Learning to Love Like Jesus. This book is an encouraging and really convicting look at the life of Jesus on Earth. And through that lens gives us some practical implications and answers to questions like, how do you love someone when you get no love in return?

And how do you love when you have baggage of your own that you're bringing into a relationship? Those are relevant and important questions. Well, this book that he's written is our gift to you when you partner with us financially here at Family Life. You can go online to, or you could give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Now, if you know anyone who needs to hear conversations like the one you heard today, would you share this program from wherever you get your podcasts?

And while you're there, you can help others learn about family life today by leaving us a review. Okay, here's Paul Miller's reflection on one of his favorite stories about Jesus. The very first resurrection appearance of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, has come back the second time. She's weeping. There's a couple angels in the tomb, and she's talking with them. If they know where the body is, Jill would be that way. Like, if she had something on her mind, she wouldn't care if she was talking to Moses.

I like her. And then she turns around, and there's Jesus standing there just looking at her. He's been watching her whole conversation, and he's not said anything. And he says to her, this is all in John 20, I'm not making any of this up. And then he says to her, you know, why are you weeping?

What are you seeking? I mean, he's just cracked the code that has held all of creation in death. And he's looking at one person. He's attentive to one person. And he asks her questions. And then she says, Jill, part two, Mary Magdalene, she ignores Jesus' question.

This is Jill. She doesn't care what Jesus is thinking. She didn't ignore the angels. I mean, she doesn't know it's Jesus, obviously. And she says, look, she's so focused on Jesus' body. She's so madly in love with Jesus. She's so offended that they've stolen His body.

I mean, what could you want with His body? And she says, do you know where, you know, she thinks He's the gardener. And she says, do you know where His body is? And that's when Jesus says, Mary.

Just His announcement that death has been destroyed, that hell has been broken, and that billions of people are going to come to faith, and there's going to be a new heavens and a new earth. And then He Himself was the first piece of that resurrection is one word. It's her name.

It's the name of a person. I mean, it's so, the way He leaves space so that she can enter that space, so we can discover what Mary Magdalene is like. And so, I mean, she's got to, it's just, it's pure Jesus. And my friends, like our listeners, Jesus, the creator of the universe. He stands at your doorway. And He calls your name. And the question is, will we respond to it? Like, Paul, thank you, because being with you, I mean, I'm in the Gospels.

I'm in the Word every day. But I'm going to reread, like, I challenge our listeners, let's go back and read Luke, read John, and really see Jesus. Yeah, I feel like we just did. I really do.

That's why I feel I'm sitting over tears in my eyes. Like, I, you know, I'm a pastor. I've preached that John 20 passage at least 30 years in a row.

And you just walking us back into it. I saw Him again. And know He sees me, and He sees our listener. Amen. Now, coming up next week, Dawn Everts is going to be joining Dave and Ann Wilson in the studio to talk about discovering your gifts, how God can specifically use you in your unique gifting. That's next week. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-07 07:32:30 / 2023-07-07 07:43:07 / 11

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