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Pointers along the way #245

When we disagree
- Jacob Ninan

Many of us go blundering along, sure of ourselves, with opinions on everything and everyone, waiting impatiently for the others to stop talking or even interrupting them so that we can put in some words of wisdom, etc. And along comes someone who dares to disagree with us! If we think we are more powerful, we just bulldoze over him and continue. If we are shaken up a bit we change the subject and try to avoid embarrassment. And if we are exposed we sit there biting our nails and thinking about our image taking a beating. We don't know how to deal with disagreements.

If we think of it, it is not difficult to see that because we don't know everything we are likely to be found wrong here and there, and that some others know more about certain things than we know. But perhaps this recognition has not sunk deep enough that it affects our behaviour. Or perhaps our ego is so strong or so fragile that we don't want to entertain any threat to our complacency. But we should know that disagreements are a help for our development and growth. God has designed life in such a way that we all can help one another. Paul talks about getting to know more about the love of God along with other Christians (Ep.3:18), and growing into maturity by giving and receiving what each one can provide (Ep.4:16).

Our particular personality make-up, the experiences we have gone through, our spiritual ministry, the gifts and talents we have, and many other factors contribute towards our particular view point and understanding concerning any subject. As a result there are so many differences of opinion about doctrines and practices even among godly people. When we come across any such disagreement isn't it good for us to pause and consider what our brother with an opposing view is actually saying and why he has that view? Many times it is not easy to appreciate another person's point of view unless we make some efforts towards that. But that exercise can provide us with a broader perspective, tone down the animosity that accompanies our view, change our approach to people and situations, and make us happier. Iron can then sharpen iron (Pr.27:17).

It can be that two of us holding seemingly opposing views can serve to balance each other and protect us from going to extremes. It is not easy to see this when someone opposes us. Instead we tend to consider him as an enemy or at least as a nuisance. It is natural that if we have true convictions about what we believe we also have strong emotions connected with them. And emotions can rise when we face opposition. But if we can recognise, perhaps even after the emotions have calmed down, that there is some truth in what our brother is saying which we could take heed to, it will keep us from going astray. Who knows, perhaps it was a prophet sent from God to warn us against turning to the right or left? Perhaps we have considered only 6 out of 10 factors, and he is coming with one or two more.