Disagree with Grace
There are going to be many moments in our life when we disagree with someone else, especially other believers. What do we do in those moments? How do we respond? How should we react?
Thankfully the Bible speaks to this very issue in the letter of Colossians. Colossians 3:12-17 says:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
When Paul starts off this passage by saying “put on then,” he is contrasting what he previously said in verses 5-11. In those verses Paul lists several sins that believers in Jesus are supposed to “put to death,” meaning they should no longer be displaying and indulging in those sins. Instead of living in sins, believers are to “put on” the characteristics that display Christ and holiness to the world around us. The characteristics that Paul lists in these verses show us what living like a Christian looks like, they type of characteristics we should be displaying. Let’s look closer at these characteristics and see how they may help us in moments of disagreement.
- Compassionate hearts: means that we are to show mercy, sympathy, and sensitivity towards people in our lives
- Kindness: means to be kind towards one another; the word specifically points towards finding ways to serve others
- Humility: means lowliness of mind, lacking arrogance
- Meekness: means gentleness; meekness is the opposite of harsh
- Patience: means longsuffering, forbearance, self-control, showing emotional calm without complaint in moments of suffering or irritation
- Bearing with one another: means to put up with others
- Forgiving each other: the word for “forgiving” here specifically means to show grace to others, forgiving freely. This is the forgiveness Christ gives us. He forgives and does not hold grudges. He extends grace upon grace to us, and we are to do the same with one another.
- Put on love: love here means unconditional love, the love Christ gives us
- Peace of Christ: we display the peace of Christ because we are supposed to be “one body” in Christ, unified, not fighting.
- Thankful: we are to be a thankful people. When we’re thankful there is not much room for ill will or bitterness
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly: we are to center our lives on the Bible; always asking yourself if what I am about to say or do consistent with God’s Word?
- Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs: our hearts and minds are to be filled with worship and adoration of God
- Whatever you do in word or deed…: everything we say or do should reflect Christ to those around us
These are the characteristics that are supposed to be displayed through our lives. These are especially important in moments of disagreement. Here are 6 ways we can practically apply what we see here in moments of disagreement:
- Examine yourself
In moments where we disagree with someone, we need to examine ourselves to see if what we’re about to say or what we’re about to do matches the characteristics in this passage. Are we being compassionate, kind, gentle? Are we being humble? Are we bearing with one another? Are we displaying grace through forgiveness? Will what I am about to say or do promote peace or destroy it?
We need to constantly examine ourselves to see if we are reflecting Christ through our words and actions. Unfortunately, we’re not always great at this. Beth Moore talks about how most of the time we use a microscope to examine in detail the faults of those around us, but we never look at ourselves. Instead, we should use a mirror to examine ourselves before we ever say anything to anyone else. This is why accountability is so important. Invite those around you, those closest to you, to help you examine yourself and hold you accountable to the life that Christ has called us to live.
- Extend Grace
Like we’ve said, we’re going to disagree with people, many times. In those moments we need to extend grace. The Bible is clear about a lot of things, but there are also things that it is not so clear on. Those things are called “open-handed issues.” These are things Christians can disagree on and still be brothers and sisters in Christ. Most of the things we fight and argue about fall in that category. Hold firm where the Bible is firm, and open where the Bible is open. Do not seek to hold other people accountable to your own personal convictions. Let us extend grace, just like Christ extends constant grace to us.
- Be slow to speak
We need to remember that not every opinion we have needs to be shared. Be slow to speak and ask yourself if this is an opinion or even a truth that needs to be shared. If it needs to be shared, do so in a gracious, gentle, humble way.
- Pray for one another
Pray for others, especially those you disagree with.
- Seek restoration
When relationships are broken over fights and disagreements, we need to seek restoration. Apologize. Forgive. Extend grace. Let us be the unified people of God we’re called to be.
- Take a break from social media
Social media does this thing where it strips us of our compassion for one another. We’re no longer talking to an actual person; we’re just typing away at a picture of someone. We are harsher over social media than we ever would be in person. This is a problem we need to be careful not to fall into. Social media also causes us to believe the lie that our opinion needs to shared at all times and that people are always interested in what we have to say on any given subject. That’s just not true. Remember we are to be slow to speak. So maybe consider taking a break from social media.