Words Matter When Opinions Divide
When we disagree with others, the words we use to state our convictions matters.
We live in a time of increasing polarization around issues that people care about deeply. It is painful to watch the news today as pundits, anchors, and commentators paint ugly caricatures of those with whom they disagree. On all sides of the political spectrum, there's demonization of the opposing party. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in our country as well as hate groups who cherish the color of their skin and hate those who are different from them. The veneer of civilization can be fragile.
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What Would Jesus Say To Us?
We are not exempt from participating in demeaning discussions of others. But here is what Jesus reminds us.
"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45
What Jesus is saying is that our words matter because they reflect the condition of our hearts. Demeaning words indicate a demeaning heart toward others. Dismissive words reflect a dismissive heart toward others. Ugly words reflect an ugly heart toward others. Consider Jesus's approach to those we dislike.
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:35-36
Wow! Compare that heart response to what is happening in today's world.
How Can We Live With Conviction?
Jesus doesn't tell us to remain silent. He would want us to speak up. It is how we communicate our convictions that matter. We need not apologize for our convictions. But we should state our convictions with love and respect for those with whom we might disagree. We can disagree with their position while still respecting them in the process. Rather than an attitude of condemnation, Jesus tells us to be merciful as our Father is merciful. Even God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. So much more so we ought to be, no matter what our disagreements with their positions. Paul gives us an excellent principle for how we speak.
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:29-32
Try it! You will not only like the result, but you will surprise others and gain a hearing that you otherwise would not have. Most of all, you will be more like Jesus.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.