Although Christians don’t want to be known for causing fights and conflicts, at times such are inevitable. Paul wrote to the Romans that Christians are to “Live in harmony with one another … If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:16, 18 NIV). And most Christians get that. But we also realise, as Paul stated, there are times we may be doing all we can to live at peace but others are determined that there will be no peace – “as far as it depends on you”.
When we do have disagreements we need to always remember that first and foremost we are Christians, disciples of Jesus the Messiah, and we need to act accordingly. We must not let the world influence us in how we act and react even when we are disagreeing with someone.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV)
When we have disagreements we can’t ‘fight’ as the world would. We are not to physically engage those who are against us – we don’t fight with the weapons of the world.
Instead we are engaging with thoughts and arguments. But these cannot be our opinions – if we are simply putting forth what we think, what difference does it really make? Why would our opinion be any better than the different opinion that someone else has?
When we are having disagreements what we say needs to be based on God’s word. This is what Paul is talking about. It is God’s word that has divine power behind it and is powerful enough to demolish whatever we are up against. It is the knowledge of God that will demolish counter-arguments that have no basis in him. Our every thought and every word must be controlled, captured, and obedient to Jesus.
We must make sure that disagreements do not degenerate into attacking the person. Often when someone cannot answer an argument, they turn on the person making the argument. They may question their sincerity or even their faithfulness to Jesus. The problem is that what we think we see may not really be reflecting who the other person is.
“You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do.” (2 Corinthians 10:7)
That is so vital in how we view others. We cannot simply judge a person by what we see because what we see may not be the entire story and can be skewed by what we think is going on. We may be confident that we are faithful to Jesus and correct in our stance, but we need to realise the other person may belong to Jesus just as much as we do.
We need to remember that we are not out to win people to what we want but to win people to serve and be faithful to Jesus. As a result we need to live so that our life will be one that the Lord approves.
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise…For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:12, 18)
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Readings for next week: 2 Corinthians 9-13; Matthew 1-4