ODJ: Dirty Laundry

September 29, 2016 

READ: Galatians 2:12-21 

I said to Peter in front of all the others, ...“Why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions” (v.14).

The phrase “dirty laundry” could refer to the bag a college student brings home, or it may mean a person’s private business—personal matters not to be discussed publicly. We can safely say that it’s not Christlike to air that kind of dirty laundry.

Yet Paul aired “dirty laundry,” and he did so in a highly public manner. In a letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote, “I said to Peter, ...Why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions’ ” (Galatians 2:14). He called Peter’s actions “hypocrisy” (v.13).

Was Paul guilty of gossip? And what did Peter do? “When [Peter] first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised,” said Paul. “But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore” (v.12).

Peter was practicing discrimination and dividing the church. And he gave the appearance of returning to the old customs of the law. Paul warned, “I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down” (v.18).

As the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul was a prominent figure. His opinion about the behavior of other church leaders is vital to all of us. Peter too was a leader and was therefore subject to public scrutiny. Paul wasn’t gossiping; he was simply correcting a co-believer so that others would know and practice the truth of unity and freedom in Christ.

Gossip may be the most minimized sin this side of pride, yet it’s so easy to do. By contrast, what Paul did is difficult—confront a fellow Christian appropriately. As we prayerfully ask for guidance each day, may the Holy Spirit show us the difference between the two and give us wisdom to correct each other with a healthy blend of love and concern.

—Tim Gustafson

365-day plan: Matthew 28:8-15

Read Ephesians 4:15 and consider what it means to share hard words with others in the right way. 
When you need to confront someone, how do you react? By lashing out angrily? By gossiping? By avoiding it altogether? In love? How can you reflect God’s heart in your words?