I come from a long line of opinionated people. When you get my family together, there’s bound to be a clash of views, but most of the time we’re able to walk away with smiles and laughter.
Usually, the subject is as miniscule as college football, but every now and then it’s more serious. I remember one adventure when we were visiting a National Park in Moab, Utah and a family member who shall remain nameless insisted on taking an off-road route to see the arches. They were in a mini-van, but the route’s sign “highly recommended” a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Needless to say, after a few miles a park ranger coming in the opposite direction suggested we turn around. We were able to get back on the paved road and see all the main attractions without getting stuck, but there where a few times when the little van was scraping rock.
We’re able to look back on the incident now and chuckle, but disputes with loved ones don’t always end this way, do they? When we feel attacked, it’s difficult to put aside our emotions.
All too often, I see an issue as black and white when in fact, there are many shades of gray. I want to have the last word and race down an ugly path of pride and narrow-mindedness instead of trying to see the other person’s point of view.
Even when I’m speaking truth, I sometimes forget about love. Instead of trusting the Spirit to speak to someone’s heart, I try to chisel away at it with words that are callous and hurtful.
Friends, there is only one person who can open a person’s heart and mind to God’s truth. He is the Spirit, and he doesn’t speak through resounding gongs and cymbals. We are his vessels, but when we approach others with a voice of pride we accomplish nothing.
There is a reason why scripture warns about controlling the tongue so many times. Because it truly does have the power of life and death.
Whether the issue is big or small, we will never agree with everyone on everything. And you know what? That is good. We were never intended to. But we can learn to approach disagreements in a Christ-like way.
I am a work in progress and on this side of eternity, I always will be. Through the arguments and the heartache, here are three questions his Spirit prompts me to ask when my blood pressure rises.
- Do I love this person? This is a question my pastor asked a few years ago and it stuck with me. If the answer is “no” then walk away. Even if you are speaking truth, any words that are not spoken with love will accomplish nothing.
- Is this my pride talking, or am I speaking the truth out of love? If I can’t find scripture, wise counsel or experience to back what I’m saying, then I may be speaking out of a pure need to be right. And what’s right for me may not be right for every other person on the planet.
- Am I giving this person grace or exercising judgment? While it is healthy to create boundaries, there is only one person who sits in the judgment seat, friends. It isn’t you or me, but Christ alone. Let us hand over the gavel to the One who can handle its weight.
I know there will be days when I’m tempted to climb on my soapbox. But you know what? The words I preach from there seldom do any good, unless you count the boost to my ego.
Arguments will happen and tempers will flare, but we can control the way we handle ourselves. Let’s reflect the mindset of the Creator, even when we’re tempted to let callous words fly.
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