You don’t have to be a Christian to learn and benefit from the wisdom contained in the Bible. However, its fair to say that it can be challenging to find the specific wisdom you are looking for and correctly interpret its meaning. This is true when reading any ancient writing whether its the words of Aristotle or the Word of God. That’s why I appreciate books like Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life.”
In Day 19 (i.e. Chapter 19) Warren writes about building community, a practice that is important to our organization’s teaching and coaching models. On page 146, he says, “Cultivating community takes honesty.” A page later he goes on to say, “Real fellowship, whether in a marriage, a friendship, or church, depends on frankness.” (I would add “at work” to his list.) “In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other. When conflict is handled correctly, we grow closer to each other by facing and resolving our differences.”
Warren continues building his case for honesty in relationships by paraphrasing Proverbs 28:23, “In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.” The actual words from the New King James translation are these …
“He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward
Than he who flatters with the tongue.”
Next, Warren provides instructions using the following similes from 1 Timothy 5:1-2.
“Never use harsh words when you correct an older man,
but talk to him as if he were your father.
Talk to younger men as if they were your brothers,
older women as if they were your mothers,
and younger women as if they were your sisters.”
This lesson about building community through honesty and love concludes as Warren once again paraphrases the Bible. This time he refers to an occasion when the Apostle Paul was compelled to rebuke the church in the ancient city of Corinth for their “passive code of silence in allowing immorality in their fellowship.” Paul said, “You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it…. Better devastation and embarrassment than damnation…. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that…. you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers?” — 1 Corinthians 5:3-12 (Msg)
The Bible was written to tell the story of God’s relationship with His people. With a skilled teacher like Rick Warren leading the way, it can also be your user’s manual for living a purpose-driven life.