Within the time span of one regular day, most people encounter several situations where they have to form an opinion and express why they think the way they do. Sometimes, there can be situations where people have different, or even opposing opinions, and this can lead to a lot of conflict.
As a Christian, I too need to form and express opinions throughout the day, but what is important to remember in each of these situations?
Asserting my own opinions
I often think about the verse in James 1:20: “… for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Asserting my own opinion with harsh and aggressive words can destroy and tear down, causing all kinds of negative results. This behavior might get people to pay attention to what I have to say, or even to agree with me, but putting others down in this way is far from how God treats people! God’s will is that I am to be filled with patience, longsuffering, goodness, and love toward everyone and in every situation, no exceptions.
You might think that other people would “step on me” and push me around if I were to take it like this. It is written about Jesus in one such circumstance that He “reviled not in return.” (1 Peter 2:23) Actually, He gave a very clear testimony when He stood before Pontius Pilate and said, “… you would have no power at all against Me, unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11) In the situation, He wasn’t concerned with making His own opinion known and understood, instead He was concerned with only one thing – to do God’s will on earth. And He trusted in his Heavenly Father so much, that He knew that He would take care of everything else, regardless of whether others understood Him or agreed with Him.
What God really cares about is not whether I am right. So what if I am? If I am not creating life and peace around me, then I am not working in the Spirit. (Romans 8:6) What God cares about is that I put to death the pride, stubbornness, human righteousness and inflexibility that are in my nature and instead listen to others, show true love and care for them, and work to accomplish the good in a level-headed, good, and peaceful way. God wants my ego to decrease, that the life of Christ can increase to an ever greater degree in me. (John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 4:10-11)
What leads to life and peace?
It is easy to allow my human wisdom and reasoning to speak out when something goes against me. “This is not how it should be, they really need to learn to change their habits.” etc. In this situation, I need to pray to God to see the hardness and stubbornness in myself and pray that peace and goodness can come forth from me instead. Human wisdom and reasoning do not lead to life and peace, but God’s will always does. (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12:18) I could also pray for help to express things to people in a good and peaceful way, with no stubbornness or bitterness attached.
Jesus went “the way downward.” Instead of striving to create a good name for Himself – promoting Himself and always trying to get others to agree with and support Him – He cared only what God thought about Him. He didn’t try to climb the ladder of esteem in people’s eyes, but instead humbled Himself under God’s mighty hand. (1 Peter 5:6) We read about Him that He was “meek and lowly of heart.” (Matthew 11:29)
Thankfully, when I am also concerned with this one thing – doing God’s will – everything is very simple! I can react to each situation based on how I understand God’s Word, and as I do this, God gives me increasingly more and more light over His Word and will. I experience that I understand it to a deeper and deeper degree. When I am obedient to what I understand in simple faithfulness, I become more and more humble, meek and lowly of heart, patient, good, and full of love and care for the others. These things begin to replace the pride, stubbornness, and inflexibility that dwells in my nature, and I experience instead that I become more and more pleasing to the One I am following after!