How to Treat Those We Disagree With (Philippians 2:3-4)
By: Anne Peterson
Today’s Bible Verse: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others. - Philippians 2:3-4
I walk every day in the cemetery. It was no different one day. I met someone there and we seemed to connect. I looked forward to seeing her and we found we had some similarities.
And then it happened.
She shared a view completely different than mine. I could feel the temptation to argue rising up in me. Eventually, I did voice my opinions. Then, on one particular day, I heard her words, “Listen, we are on opposite sides with this. I’m sure you won’t change your mind, and I know I won’t change my mind."
So there we were on opposite sides, left with a decision. What would we do?
Oh sure, we could decide to just not talk, to give friendly nods, or wave at each other. That surely was an option. And while that was feasible, I knew of another option. One that required help. God’s help.
We could remain friends with differing views.
We chose the 2nd option. And once I made that decision, I realized my world would be a lot bigger because of it. I could almost feel myself stretching.
When I limit my relationships to those I fully agree with, I limit my growth as well. And, instead of being like Christ, who befriended all people, I would control who would be in my circle.
Since that decision, I have had more opportunities to do so with other people. I smile faintly, wondering how many other relationships/friendships I could have experienced if I had adopted this philosophy before.
Look around. Right now, we don’t just disagree with others who hold opposing views, but many of us develop contempt for them. When we let our emotions run our ships, we can find ourselves shipwrecked.
When I read about how humble Jesus was, I see someone who knew the truth about everything, and yet kept himself open to relationships with all. He talked to and befriended sinners, tax collectors, the riffraff of society… and we should be so thankful he did.
I’m not saying we should not stand for what we believe. Jesus certainly did. I’m just saying we should still respect and treat kindly those who hold different views on important topics.
Right now, nations are divided into political and social groups. Many families are even divided by opposing views. This isn’t what God wants. God exhorts us to love one another (John 15:12). Actually, it’s not merely a suggestion. Love accepts the other person, remembering each person has value.
We cannot dismiss a person simply because we disagree. God tells us that we are to even love our enemies (Luke 6:27-36). How will others ever ask us about the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15) if all they see when they look at us are our opposing views?
When I see my friend, I see a person God created. Not someone I’m supposed to convince. My deepest desire is not to plead my case, or somehow win her over to my way of thinking. God doesn’t want me to be headstrong. He wants me to be strong in Him (Ephesians 6:10). Like Jesus is.
I’m trying to untangle, Lord,
these stubborn knots I see.
But every single time I try,
they’re getting worse for me.
And then I see Him smiling
as He takes them in His hands,
and I just watch with wonder
as He loosens every strand.
- Anne Peterson © 2020
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, published author of 16 books, including her latest book, Always There: Finding God's Comfort Through Loss. Anne has published children’s books, poetry books and 2 memoirs. She is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. If you are not certain you are going to heaven, sign up for Anne’s free eBook, Real Love at www.annepeterson.com. You can also connect with Anne on Facebook.
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