When do we stop?

 Even though I tend to use words like “fight” or “argue” without negative connotation, the truth is that the more polemic (my side vs your side) the discussion becomes, the less value it has.  If the discussion is causing you to hate, you need to stop.  There is a more important issue for you to deal with.  If you find yourself wanting the other person dead or desiring his hurt, you are hating.  If you call him names without regard to whether or not those labels are right, you may be hating.  If your goal is to discredit your brother, rather than to have your side of the disagreement heard, you may be very near hating.  I think this is the gist of Matthew 5:22.  You don’t want to hate.

Very often the evil one uses our flesh to manipulate our actions and attitudes.  When you find that the current argument dredges up old feelings and thoughts, so that you feel toward your brother the same things you felt toward someone else that hurt you, you may want to step back.  If the issue is important, the Lord will lead others to continue the discussion.  You may have reached the point of your compromise, when you no longer will be effective.  Trust that the Lord will solve the problem. 

Now, read this carefully: it is the flesh that needs to win.  You do not need to win this argument to honor the Lord or to protect right doctrine.  If you find that you simply must win, step back.  Sometimes the argument goes long past the point of fruitfulness.  When both sides have presented their views and there is no place for agreement, then it is over.  Sell the building and split the proceeds, agree to minister in different places and with different groups, let your opposing books do their work—but end it.  Find the way to let it go.  Letting it go is not compromise.  It is simply acknowledging that there is no value in going further.

What about all those mean things the others said about you or did to you?  Well, forgive them.  Forgiving them does not mean that you think they were right.  In fact, forgiveness means you think they were wrong, but you choose to give the offense over to the Lord.  Forgiveness is a good thing.  You will feel better and be more effective in future ministry when you find the way to it.

Some arguments don’t end with a happy solution.  That’s okay.  The day of truth is coming when you will know who was right and who was wrong . . . and in that day it won’t matter.

 Thoughts?

5 Comments

Filed under Church, Theology and mystery

5 responses to “When do we stop?

  1. Rebekah Grace

    I have often thought that the Lord doesn’t need us to defend Him but reflect Him!

  2. Kay

    Hi Dave: Almost as soon as I began to really live my life IN Christ (in the last 6 months), my relationship with all I know moved from “I know I’m right” to a prayerful “you could be right” or “let me think on this and I’ll get back to you”. When/IF it is important enough (bad actions, harsh words, flesh in action), praying for the person(s) involved and receiving God’s Christ-take on it can ease the sense of seriousness or lack of accountability, His Words can and do diffuse ‘ugly’ flesh-patterns. Forgiveness IS the greatest healer of “someone done me wrong song” and stops the merry-go-round in most of the cases. One may still need to re-address the conversation, but the root of anger, hostility will not be there. Knowing that The Lord is actively intervening in me, I can sense His ‘check’ and sovereignty for MY growth first. I think the “competitive” “I’ve got to be right” is oftentimes what brings down friendships, marriages, parental decisions, jobs and good emotional/mental health. Thanks for the reminder, Dave. K

  3. Sue

    This post made me think of the many “discussions” I used to participate in on a Christian discussion forum.

    You would see this kind of attitude displayed and we used to call it “last wordism.” There were a few participants who clearly wanted to be heard as right and hammered on and on under the guise of wanting to protect those who might be misled. I have to admit that I was guilty of this myself. And then I was very lovingly corrected and reminded that I did not need to be right and sometimes it is best to simply state your view and let it go. God knows who is right and who is wrong.

    Good post Dave, it has given me more to think and chew on.

    God bless!
    Sue

  4. Marshall Noblitt

    Thanks for the reminder. I couldn’t agree more. Just needed to be reminded.

  5. Thanks for the great comments! 🙂

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