My grandmother used to always say, "You can't expect intelligent answers out of unintelligent people." It was her way of saying I wouldn't always agree with everyone, and just consider the source and move onward. However, it seems to me that this is something we've forgotten in this day and age. In the world of social media, where we have battles on sites about our views that they get so heated we have family member defriending other family members, how can we learn to just get along anymore? I personally have seen even Christians engage in such nasty social media and personal verbal battles that it makes me cringe. All this fighting against each other isn't bringing honor to the kingdom. A house divided will fall (see Mark 3:25).
The Bible tells us that we need to "Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another" (Mark 9:50b). Which means it's OK that things can make you angry. There is such a thing as righteous anger (Jesus had His moments. He flipped the merchants' tables in the temple); however, we need to learn to be at peace with others. How do we do this? Does this mean we never voice our views? How can we be at peace with others when their standpoints and arguments make us wonder if they have ever read a Bible?
- I believe we need to stand up for righteousness' sake. We need to stand up for the gospel. Even Billy Graham said, 'Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand the spines of others are stiffened." In a time where the Bible and biblical values are being attacked, we need to make a stand in our own sphere of influence. However, we don't need to pick fights for no apparent reason. We don't need to be that one coworker who is always negative. We need to live the walk that we talk. I believe that Christians do need to come "out of the closet," be lights in the world and not just inside their homes; however, we don't need to be a machine gun to everyone around us. Choose wisely how you respond.
- When you do approach situations, do so with love. That doesn't mean you become a doormat. But it means you listen to others peoples' views. You remain humble. You don't sin in your anger, but you are wise in your responses. In times of arguments, I have often asked the Lord how to respond to the situation to help the person listen to biblical truth. Once, I was in a conversation with a Wiccan witch, and everything I said to her seemed to bounce off. Finally, I prayed to God how to approach our disagreements, and He told me to start talking to her about How much God loved her and how much the things she was worshipping didn't. It was only then she began to hear me.
- Consider doing random acts of kindness. In the situation above with the witch, I knew she liked a particular soda, and she was used to having Christians show her everything but love. So I brought her one. It was something very small, but it sowed a seed in her life that Christians can show love.
- You don't need to battle in every war. Even a soldier would tell you that fighting in every battle will just wear you out. It is possible to walk away from an argument, keep on scrolling, and not respond. Be wise and learn when to and when to just keep going.
Proverbs 20:3 says, "It is an honor for a man to cease from strife, but every fool will be meddling." One of my favorite ways to deal with strife is to pray. I always say, "God, if the problem is in me, then change me. Help me to change and see that it is. If it's in them, then you go talk to the person." It's a great piece of advice for life. I have often witnessed situations where the problem individual came back to me with a story of how God showed them they were in the wrong or otherwise spoke to them. I have also many times where God showed me I was in the wrong.
Life happens, and we won't always agree with everyone. But how we respond can be just as important as any witnessing tool. How we respond to conflict will set us up for God to be able to use us more and more in situations. Some situations can be a bit sticky, but if we will stay humble and allow God to direct us, we can influence the world around us.
Anna M. Aquino is a published author, guest minister and prophetic voice. Her books: Cursing the Church or Helping It? Exposing the spirit of Balaam, Confessions of a Ninja Mom, An Ember In Time and A Marriage In Time are available wherever books are sold. Please feel free to check out her website at annamaquino.com
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