Please note: I started this blog post with the idea it would go on my blog and be, well, read by about 3 people. Then I was honored with a request to put something up over here. In the interest of not making you wait for me to write perfectly, you’ll get what I’ve got. Doug
Someday, it’s bound to happen to you too, but I know it has happened to me. You’re sitting there, reading along, whether it be book, magazine, blog or journal and the moment comes. Perhaps you’re listening at a conference, convention, or watching the news. The moment hits, and you feel almost angry from it.
What happened? One of the most irritating people you’re aware of just uttered an opinion, viewpoint, or theological idea. The problem? It was brilliant. It was well-reasoned. It was right. At the very least, if you’re not certain it was those things, it was, well, the same as yours. It may have happened in politics, whether it was Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann, theology, whether funda-servative or lib-orate, or anything else.
And you’re beyond aghast. You’re indignant. Here’s the person that, for all of the image of God they were created in, you just can’t stand. They’re rude, they’re ignorant, they’re intolerant. They’re mean to their supporters and downright awful to their detractors. Even their behavior shows that down in, the person is more than just easily agitated: they’re vindicative to the core. If Jesus hadn’t said not to, you’d consider calling this person a fool! (Matt. 5:22; Ecclesiastes 10:3 and Proverbs 10:23)
Certainly, you can’t hold the same views as this person! It can’t be possible, can it? After all, we all know that we are, though sinful (even totally depraved, perhaps), among the smartest people we know. We’re personally convinced that we’re right, and that we’re appropriately loving, compassionate, and considerate. Which is so opposite the person you’ve found yourself in agreement with that you both can’t be on the same side!
What to do? Well, here are a few thoughts:
- Consider your own position. Is it possible that you are holding to your views and need to change your own view? I’m personally very convinced the Bible is always right, and so will not discard seeking to have my opinion driven by Scripture. However, there are interpretations and context to consider. Have I considered it rightly? Am I right? When I find my opinion shared by people who do not show Christ as the center of their life and behavior, I am challenged first to consider my own views. Scripture, after all, speaks of leaving the presence of fools in Proverbs (14:7) and Psalms (Psalm 1). However, as we used to say at UPS, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then,” so it is with foolish people: they may be right.
- Consider your problem with this person. Are you attempting to do what only God can by judging their motives and heart? (1 Samuel 16:7) It is true that trees are known by their fruit (Luke 6:44) and we can evaluate fruit, but are you jumping to a conclusion and judging someone when it’s not your job to do so? (Romans 14:4) Is it possible that you’re irritated with someone though you have no right to do so? If so, get over yourself. The Lord Jesus Christ had to die for you too, not just for those who irritate you.
- Consider your responses. If you are in a discussion, like a blog stream or a public debate, be mindful of your words. (Matthew 12:36) Strive to keep yourself on task and on topic, even as the discussion degenerates to pointless personal fights (Proverbs 20:3). Strive not to answer the same way the other person does, but rather to answer with wisdom (Proverbs 26:4-5), and you will not beat the wisdom of God in His Word. Don’t spend too many words distancing yourself, but rather let your own tones and arguments show that you and your like-minded irritant are different people. Let the action of how you speak be clear.
- Consider your limitations. Shall we rehearse some important things here? In Exodus, Moses talks face-to-face with Almighty God. Moses then is rejected by the Israelites. In 1 Samuel, Samuel talks with Almighty God. Samuel is then rejected by the Israelites. The Lord of Hosts warns Isaiah in chapter 6 that Isaiah is going to a people that will hear and not get it. Prophet after prophet has had trouble making himself understood. I won’t class the Lord Jesus as not being understood, I actually think He was clearly understood by everyone but the Apostles. They crucified Him not because they misunderstood, but because they knew. Anyway…the prophets, even Peter and Paul were inspired by the Holy Spirit, had truly seen God, and the people they dealt with still questioned their motivations, questioned their words, and questioned their spiritual life. Do you expect to be perfectly understood when they were not?
So, in all, realize that if you’re right, you’re right. Even if a host of ornery people agree with you and the nicest people in the world think you’re wrong. Just because you share a common opinion does not make you a clone of, nor a mouthpiece for, someone you don’t like. Neither allow yourself to completely copy that person nor abandon truth because of them.