Graciously Disagree

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
— Proverbs 15:1

You have heard the expression, “We will just have to disagree, agreeably.” This happens when two are discussing a subject or arguing an issue on which they cannot agree. This happens in different aspects of life such as religious disagreements, political disagreements, or even disagreements on how to do something in the work place.

We have an example in the Bible of a disagreement between two men that resulted in hurt feelings, but turned out good for a third party. It was between the apostle Paul and Barnabas. They were a missionary team who traveled from place to place sharing the gospel of Christ Jesus. As people responded to the gospel message for salvation, churches were established. On this first missionary journey they had with them a young man named John Mark. During this trip, for whatever reason, Mark went home. When Paul and Barnabas returned home to share about their journey, after awhile they decided to return and visit the new churches. Barnabas wanted to take Mark again but Paul did not. Since they could not agree, Barnabas took Mark and Paul took Silas and they parted in opposite directions.

This separation was good for Mark. Barnabas was and encourager which was a help to Mark which enabled him to grow and mature in his faith. There was such a maturing change in him that later Paul needed Mark for his own ministry.

No matter how much good may possibly come from disagreements, someone often gets hurt, hurt deeply enough to leave scars.

Disagreements are a clash of two wills. The more heated disagreements become, the more our “inner steam tank” builds to the boiling point, and the more explosive our words become.

I want to share with you some suggestions that will help resolve disagreements and minimize the hurts that may remain. (Taken from Mind Click, JPC)

  • Use gentle words when disagreeing.
  • Agree with at least something the other person says.
  • Realize that some people think they are right about everything.
  • Some people are easily offended when disagreed with.
  • Try to be a good listener during a disagreement.
  • Maintain self-control.
  • Be willing to listen to their suggestions.
  • Choose to increase your understanding of the other persons point of view.
  • Try to find a healthy middle ground without compromising your convictions.
  • Choose to do what is best for both parties.

When there is a “deep heated” conflict, it is best to get a third person involved who can remain neutral and help resolve the problem. In Paul’s letter to the Philippian Christians, he encourages others to be involved to help two women settle their differences. “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women . . .” (Phil. 4:2-3)

I believe the apostle Paul himself learned that heated disagreements not only are hurtful to the other person, but also hurtful to a Christian’s testimony. Jesus said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples if you have (demonstrate) love one to another.” “Let your light shine before others in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me by the power of Your Spirit to shine before all people, that I might reflect the very character of Christ Jesus. In His name I pray. Amen.