In just a moment I’m going to say something, and some of you will disagree with me. How will you respond?
As best I can tell these days, there are pretty much three ways that we, as a culture, have decided to handle disagreements and the first is hopefully the wisest: we try to educate ourselves and the person with whom we disagree.
This is a good procedure. We listen to opposing opinions, or how facts are presented. If there is no common ground, we decide decide if this is a fight to engage or let go. If we engage, we rationally present a different set of facts, and that’s it.
When this path is taken there is an exchange of wisdom and there might be a change of thought, or a compromise, or an agreement to simply disagree. In any event, there is respect and cordial relationships are upheld.
The second way we deal with different thinking is to tell the other person they are wrong. We criticize the well from which they draw their facts and conclusions. We belittle their small-mindedness. We challenge the outcome of their way of thinking. And we get angry.
When we take this path, there is no compromise. There is no resolution. There is no exchange of ideas. There is no stretching of the mind to research a novel thought. There is often a fractured relationship left in the wake.
The third, and unfortunately what seems to be the most popular way we deal with differences of opinions lately, is to attack the person who holds the different opinion. Oh, not physically, we don’t hit people – yet – but we do attack them.
In our anger and frustration, in our inability to defend our position, and in our desperate attempt to prove others wrong, we call people names, we yell, and we refuse to listen to what they have to say while we demand that they listen to us. This destroys relationships.
Why does this happen? Why do we so quickly abandon our cause and begin fighting to be right? I think for two reasons: 1) we are full of pride; and 2) we are empty of grace.
Ugh. I hate pride. I struggle with it. I constantly have to fight against it. Pride insists on its own way. Pride demands that others submit to it. Pride needs to be the top dog. Pride cannot conceive of being wrong, or even of the need to compromise the least bit. Pride is always right.
Pride prompts us to fight. Pride prevents us from listening to a point of view other than our own. Pride tells us that what we believe is superior, because we are superior. Pride defeats humility.
Where does pride dwell: In the hearts of humans. Pride hardens our hearts and is the fertile ground for arrogance. What is arrogance: when we are overly convinced of our own importance. How is arrogance manifest: in disdain for others or their opinions. Arrogance belittles others.
Pride and arrogance refuse to listen, hear, or even entertain the idea that someone else just might have a better idea or perspective than we do. And when we cannot convince them of our superior position – we get angry.
We have a lot of pride showing itself these days in our entertainment, our newscasts, our government, our homes, and even in our churches. We are full of pride.
Grace gives the benefit of the doubt. Grace promotes harmony. Grace leads us to reconciliation. Grace helps us to see from another’s perspective. Grace does not demand its own way. Grace gives to others what they have not earned: respect, time, and an opportunity to be heard. Isn’t that what we all want: to be heard?
We know that we are saved by grace: God’s unmerited favor toward us. While we were sinners God gave us a Savior – he sent us his one and only Son to die for us (Romans 5:8) – when we hadn’t done anything to deserve it.
It is by grace we have been set free from the bondage of our pride. We don’t have to live enslaved to the craving to always be right (Ephesians 2:1-10)
Unfortunately, many of us who have experienced saving grace have forgotten that it is amazing. Grace has simply become ordinary; grace that we believe doesn’t have to flow through us, now that we have been saved by it.
Is your heart full of pride? Or are you a conduit of grace?
Yes, there are many causes for which we must stand firm: our faith chief among them. We must stand against the evil in this world that wants to destroy us. We must protect our nation and way of life. We must help our fellow man. However, there are a multitude of ways in which we might accomplish these goals.
None of us has a lock on the only, or best, way to do things. Even what we know about God, the world, and his plan for us is constantly growing and changing as we study His Word; therefore the causes for which we stand will change, as will our ideas of how to accomplish them.
It is good to have an opinion based on facts. It is good to look at where history has brought us and learn from it. It is good to stand for what we think is right. However, how we do it matters; what is our motive: pride or grace? Solomon, in all his wisdom, reminds us that in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 NLT).
Fighting for a cause is one thing. Fighting to be right is another. Is fighting to be right really worth the reward? What are we losing in the battle? How many friends have you blocked in the past year on your social media account? How many family members are angry with you, or vice versa? Did pride play a role in your dissociation? Could grace bring you back together?
Oh, what was I going to say that some of you might disagree with? This blog post.
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