(2 Timothy 2: 23-24, NLT) 23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
Part of being a parent to a teenager is having pointless arguments. As with every stage of life that children go through, the teenage years are proving to have some very frustrating moments. My son will be fourteen years old this fall, and let me tell you…some of our conversations can be MOST aggravating! I will find myself getting sucked into these merry-go-round exchanges with him, and after a few moments spent in a quickly escalating debate, I stop and think, “Why am I doing this?” Then I simply say to him, “No sir. This is not up for debate or argument. You are not on trial, and this is not a discussion. Accept it and walk away.”
Just like these annoying and pointless exchanges that I have with my son, all of us can become easily enticed into engaging in foolish debates and arguments with others. Sometimes it’s with other Christians who simply see and interpret things differently, and then other times it’s with people who don’t believe in anything at all…or in things that are contrary to our own faith and values.
When this happens, instead of getting deeper and deeper into dispute, we need to be mature enough to realize that many times it’s better to just walk away. You know…agree to disagree. Witnessing to others on behalf of Christ has a lot more to do with what we do and how we make others feel, rather than what we attempt to prove to them. We can’t bully and argue people into accepting Christ, nor into feeling and believing the same things that we do. We must instead love them, choose our own actions and words wisely, and have self-control over our attitudes and reactions.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
While feelings shouldn’t govern our every move in life, they are still an integral part of who we are — what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. So we must always take them into account. We have to be selfless and mature enough to realize that the feelings and opinions of others do matter, and that respecting someone does not mean you have to agree with him or her.
Our Christian faith, our relationships with Christ, and greater than all — the love of Christ — should be the driving forces in all that we do. So when you are tempted to make that snarky comment on social media, to defend your stance in a spirit of indignation and offense, think about how it might be interpreted first — how it might make someone else feel when he or she reads or hears your words. You might think, “I really don’t care what anyone thinks!” Well, you should! It should absolutely matter, because you are not just a representative of yourself in this world. When you carry the name of Christ, as a child and ambassador of God Almighty, you are representing Him through your words and deeds. How you make others feel is as important as any Biblical stance you might take on the many controversial issues that come up in conversation. Let go of your offenses and your pride, and just let God use you to be a light. All of that other stuff can be worked out individually, as people grow and mature in Him. Let the Holy Spirit take care of conviction, and you just love the stuffin’ out of everyone that you can.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You that where I am weak, YOU are strong. When I get sucked into arguments and disputes that could be detrimental to my Christian witness, help me to be aware enough to bow out gracefully. I pray that my life would be a positive light in an ever darkening world, and that Your love would evident in all that I say and do. Amen.