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A Better Way to Disagree - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

James 1:19-20 “My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry, for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteous purpose.”  (TPT)

Disagreeing with Love

Right now everyone feels pushed into a corner. It doesn’t seem to matter what you believe, what opinions you have, or how much truth you think you understand, no one is entirely immune from negative rhetoric, abrasive words, or personal attacks at some level. That feeling of being backed into a corner drives some to simply turn their backs and cover their ears until the storm passes. Other people feel compelled to fight back or challenge what is coming at them. In this tumultuous season, Jesus gives us a path out of the corner, but not by forcefully delivering the truth we hold dear or by evading the issues. His path… the better path… isn’t easy. It does take work, and it often requires sacrifice on our part. James 1:19-20 sums the path up this way: “My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry, for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteous purpose.”  

The human tendency to react with personal opinion and judgment rather than curiosity, grace, and compassion has been our collective flaw since the dawn of time. To make matters worse, some Christ-followers assume that the spirit in which we should handle disagreements with people who don’t share our own faith is somehow different than the way we are called to handle conflicts with fellow believers. It’s true that the Bible outlines specific instructions on how to resolve quarrels between two people within the church regardless of what the disagreement is about (Matthew 5:23-24, 18:15-17), but it’s also just as clear about how we are to handle conflicts and differences of opinion with those who may not necessarily ascribe to a Gospel-centered way of living. The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:5, “Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.” Even more specific in Titus 3:2, he instructs, “They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.” 

Jesus modeled for us the better way to co-exist with people with whom we might disagree on many levels — believers and non-believers alike. In every interaction, Jesus had with others, His aim… His priority… His focus... was love. Whether it was His own band of disciples or the woman caught in adultery, He demonstrated this love by listening, understanding, and making the other person feel known, cared for, and accepted. By contrast, we humans are solution-driven by nature. It doesn’t matter whether we’re dealing with other Christians or non-believers, we often default to the solution that will best serve our agenda, validate our opinions, and reduce our need to make sacrifices. Sometimes we even conceal our self-centered aim under the guise of communicating “the truth” and “standing for what’s right.” While real truth is undoubtedly important, the Spirit of Jesus will always push us toward demonstrating love first. Jesus never missed the right time to communicate truth, but most of the time, His timing is very different than ours and so is His method.

Colossians 4:4-6 compels us. “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Disagreeing with others, whether it’s an actual argument or simply coping with a difference of opinion is inevitable, but if handled Jesus’ way, it becomes an opportunity, which we are called to make the most of. That means we shouldn’t ignore it, run from it, or tackle it in our own power. It’s an opportunity to radiate the power of God working in us to bring hope, peace, and love to a world desperately in need of it.

Daily Bible Readings

As you contemplate these passages throughout the week, make time to pray before you read them and then again, afterward. In each reading, ask God to show you what the verses mean specifically to you. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind. God wants to spend time with you.

Monday - Read Proverbs 18:2 and Colossians 3:12-14. It’s impossible for us to avoid forming opinions about situations, issues, and people. Without this cognitive ability, we wouldn’t be able to make decisions or evaluate opportunities on a daily basis. Of course, the flip side of this benefit is when we lift up our own opinions to a level where we are unable or unwilling to consider the perspectives of others or allow them to hold to their own ideals without trying to change their minds. As you read these two Scripture passages, take some time to contemplate how you typically react to others’ opinions. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any ways in which He wants you to live out these verses more fully. 

Tuesday - Read Proverbs 17:14, Ephesians 4:26-27, and Matthew 5:23-24. Think about the last time you delayed addressing an issue with your spouse or a dear friend. It’s only natural to procrastinate when it comes to initiating difficult conversations or to ask for forgiveness, but the longer we let things fester, the harder it becomes to clear the air and reconcile. As you enter a time of prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to help you forgive people who have hurt you and remind you of anyone whom you need to approach for forgiveness. Ask Him to help you to do it quickly and to find wholeness and reconciliation in that relationship. 

Wednesday - Read Philippians 2:4 and 1 Timothy 1:5. Sometimes knowing the truth or holding a belief can become more important than offering compassion to others who disagree with you, but Jesus asks you to go a better way and choose love above being right. This is one of the hardest things the Holy Spirit can help you achieve because every fiber of your being wants to convince the other person that he or she is wrong. Considering the interests of others first doesn’t mean you agree with them, but it does demonstrate that you care about them. As a relationship forms, the opportunity to share truth in love will come as the Holy Spirit does His work in both of you. Spend time meditating on these verses and ask God to help you to put them into practice with the people He brings into your life. Pray for those you disagree with and ask the Holy Spirit to help you put love first when you talk with them. 

Thursday - Read Romans 14:19 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11. We don’t walk in faith alone. Jesus calls us to take seriously the charge to build each other up. We are accountable and responsible to each other as fellow believers. This means that God will often lead us to encourage each other or support each other in ways that require self-sacrifice. As you interact with other believers, including any who may live in your household, ask God to make you more aware of how you can build them up and encourage them on their paths to becoming more like Jesus. In the days ahead, when you are tempted to argue, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to handle the disagreement in a way that builds up the other person.

Friday - Read Matthew 18:15-17 and Ephesians 4:15. Jesus gives us specific instructions on how to solve disagreements with other believers, especially those within our own church congregation, but the same principle applies to any situation. The first step is the hardest, which is to go directly to the person who’s offended you rather than talk with others about the issue or the person. As you enter a time of prayer, praise God that He wants to be so involved in the details of our lives and that He promises to help us glorify Him in resolving even the smallest of disagreements with others. Consider every way that you can actively seek His presence throughout your day so that you can more effectively radiate Him at work… at home… in your neighborhood… and everywhere that you go. 

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to live life a better way... Jesus' way.

Want to Go Even Further? 
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study. 

STUDY GUIDE - A BETTER WAY TO DISAGREE

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