"I would like to be with you right now and change my tone of voice, because I don’t know what to do about you." Galatians 4:20 HCSB
How many times did my Mama say, "You better change the tone of your voice, Mister," when I was being disrespectful.
How many times I've said to my kids, "Watch the tone of your voice," when they are sounding ugly to ne another or me.
And, let's be equal opportunity here, how many times could my kids say to me, "Daddy, you should change your tone of voice."
Yes, we can all do it, can't we? Take a tone that may be stronger than needed or deserved.
Which speaks more, the words you say or the tone with which you say them?
Paul is writing the dear, misdirected Galatians. These Christ followers started out well, but got side-tracked by lesser things and allowed lesser character to control.
He asks, "how is it that you are turning back to that way of life?," in verse 9. He says, "I fear for you, verse 10, & "I plead with you," verse 12. Like a parent talking to children who should know better. Maybe like a parent begging adult children who absolutely know better. Paul is exhorting them.
Then he does it. He calls them, "My dear children," in verse 19. See. It never changes. From almost two thousand years ago until today, parents have had to take a tone with their children. Parents don't want to have to use that tone of voice. Paul even wrote that he didn't want to have to take that tone. But he did, as the NIV translates, "because I am perplexed about you!"
Some folks will take a tone with you just because they can, just because they are mean, or for no reason at all.
Yet if God—by His Holy Spirit, through His Word, or from a trusted Christ follower—takes a tone with you, you'd better listen up. Know that He loves you. Know that He doesn't want to be harsh. But know that He is trying to get your attention. Even if He has to use a tone of voice outside of the norm.