And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 22, Number
In this issue:
Before and after I became Christian, as well as when I began preaching, I was taught it was a virtue to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. I was told this is a needed asset when disputes occur (religious or otherwise), and I still believe it (Acts 17:2-3; 19:8; 1 Pet. 3:15). When you disagree with someone, present your case from God’s word without being disagreeable, and you will have a better chance of being persuasive. Plus, if you are the one in the wrong, you will be more likely to learn your error and correct it. I have tried to follow this noble path, but I have not always succeeded. I regret those failures, and with repentance seek to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Over at least the past generation or two, “disagreeing without being disagreeable” has been eroded from the character of many Americans. Maybe it was not there in the first place, but I like to think it was. Now, it seems that being respectful toward others with words, expressions, and conduct has been thrown into the trash heap. Social media makes it incredibly easy to disrespect others. But, of course, the real culprit is the heart. Disagreeing with a polite demeanor has devolved into impugning motives and character, unkindness, rudeness, provocation, hatred, and violence. These sins are the opposite of love (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
We are deeply troubled by the animosity, bitter and cruel criticism, and discord in our country at this moment. Not a few politicians (and others) “go for the throat” of their opponents – not with a rational exchange of ideas seeking to forge agreements for the good of the citizenry – but to pulverize their politician enemies. An increasing number of citizens look at each other with immediate suspicion and contempt. Misunderstandings escalate, too often with violent and tragic outcomes. Division is ugly, painful, and destructive.
The disrespect seen in society is not new, nor completely unexpected. It is but one of the sinful results of refusing to respect God and others (Rom. 1:21-32; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).
What is especially troubling is when Christians treat each other with disrespect and contempt. Some will defend their lack of civility toward others (whether brethren or the lost) as “boldly standing for the truth.” It is not.
Giving honest, timely, and straightforward exhortations, warnings, and even rebukes do not exempt us from being kind and treating others as we want them to treat us (Matt. 7:12; 2 Cor. 12:19-21). Somewhere along the line, that simple truth gets hidden behind the conceit of pride’s self-interest and self-defense. If the truth we speak hurts (and at times it will), let us do our best to aim for the sinner’s heart to convict and convert the person, not to “put another notch” in our belt (Acts 2:36-41; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). We must not confuse passion for the truth with a lack of self-control that leads to “envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions” and “useless wranglings” (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
We are not advocating unity in moral or religious diversity here – just the opposite. God’s word is truth and is the pattern we must hold fast (Jno. 17:17; 2 Tim. 1:13). When disagreements arise over God’s word, that is not our license to become dismissive, mean, rude, condescending, or abusive to others with our words and actions (2 Jno. 9-11; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 2 Thess. 3:14-15). Why would anyone ever want to listen to us about God’s truth and their sin when we are unkind and uncaring toward them (Matt. 5:44-48; Gal. 6:1-2)?
If we are to reclaim and maintain the virtue of disagreeing without being disagreeable, we must listen to what others have to say. That means listening to understand them – not just to reply or argue with them. We may not agree with them. We might have God’s truth on the matter, but we should hear them out. It might just turn out we don’t have the truth. God’s word will decide that. Pride goes before a fall, and only the arrogant are so confident they close their minds to further investigation and Scripture-searching study to find out what pleases God (Acts 17:11).
Being “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” has the ring of disagreeing without being disagreeable to it. I might be wrong, and so I want to consider what you have to say (Jas. 1:19). Forbearance prevents us from becoming disagreeable toward others when we disagree with them (Col. 3:12-15). God’s word is the standard of truth, not what we feel and are convinced of within ourselves (Acts 26:9-11). Without a doubt, we are to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). It’s the “with meekness and fear” part that often tangles us up.
Reclaiming the virtue of disagreeing without being disagreeable will help us untangle ourselves from sin and follow the example of Jesus (1 Pet. 2:20-23; 3:8-12).
When we can address disagreements without being disagreeable, we are equipped to keep our eyes on God’s truth and to help each other do the will of God. Then we will be an asset for the cause of truth by “speaking the truth in love” to unite in Christ (Eph. 4:13-16). The church (and our nation, for that matter) will be better for it.
Father’s Day began in America around
1910. Most credit “Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, whose father, a
Civil War veteran, raised her and her five siblings after their mother died
in childbirth” for beginning its observance (“Father’s Day,”
History.com). Father’s Day was a religious holiday before being
commercialized by greeting cards and gifts. It became a national holiday in
1966, and in 1972 the third Sunday of June was officially designated
Reprint, The Spirit’s Sword (XIV:18) June 19, 2011
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
“It Isn’t Hate to Speak the Truth”
Thus said the author of the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling, after being called hateful and “transphobic” for reiterating that biological gender is real. This is interesting since Rowling has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ community, even saying that “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so” (“Harry Potter author JK Rowling faces intense backlash for saying ‘sex is real,’” Brandon Showalter, christianpost.com). Ironic, right? A famous left-wing feminist being slurred by even more radical leftist feminists because she dared to state an obvious truth – gender is real (biological). (Never mind her contradiction of saying so while also supporting transgenderism!)
The U.S. Supreme Court also has trouble understanding this obvious truth. It ruled this week an LGBTQ worker can sue for sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which bars discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion). Now, a biological male can sue an employer for discrimination as a woman.
Male is male, and female is female. Jesus said so. Maybe this is one reason the LGBTQ people hate Jesus and Christians so (Jno. 15:18-20). Jesus said, “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female” (Mk. 10:6). Jesus also said marriage is between male and female – not the (sinful) variations on that theme that are increasingly accepted today. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Mk. 10:7).
Christians believe in the binary gender identities and roles God created (as well as their moral implications). This is now the minority view in America. But that does not change the truth. Rowling got this right: It isn’t hate to speak the truth. It is love (1 Cor. 13:6; Gal. 4:16; Eph. 4:15).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/19/2020
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA