Most of us come into situations every day where we have to form an opinion and then say what we think and why we think the way we do. In such situations, people can have totally different opinions to ours, and this can easily lead to a lot of conflict and arguing.
As a Christian, I also need to form and express my opinions throughout the day, but there are some things that are important to remember in all of these situations.
Fighting for my own opinions
I often think about the verse in James 1:20 (NIRV): “A man's anger doesn't produce the kind of life God wants.” Fighting for what I think is right with harsh, unkind and aggressive words can destroy and tear down relationships. It almost never brings any positive results. It might get people to pay attention to what I have to say, or even to agree with me, but to treat others in this harsh way is far from how God treats people! God’s will is that I am always filled with patience, goodness, and love towards everyone and in every situation, no exceptions.
You might think that other people would push me around and take advantage of me if I would do it in this way. But it is written about Jesus that He “did not answer back with an insult” when He came into situations where others were mean to Him. (1 Peter 2:23.)
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 this situation, He didn’t try to defend Himself or make His own opinion known and understood. Instead, He cared only about one thing – to do God’s will on earth. And He trusted in his Heavenly Father so much, that He knew that the Father would take care of everything else, whether or not others understood Him or agreed with Him.
What God really cares about is not whether I am right in how I understand and see things. Even if I am right, 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 see and say No to the pride, stubbornness, human righteousness and stiffness that are in my nature, and instead listen to others, show true love and care for them, and work towards a good outcome in a sober, good, and peaceful way. God wants my ”I”, my “ego”, to become smaller and smaller so that the fruits of the Spirit like kindness, goodness etc. can grow more and more 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 understanding to speak out when something goes against me. I might think: “This is not how it should be! They really need to learn to change their habits,” etc.
If this happens, I need to ask God to help me to see the hardness and stubbornness in myself, and pray that peace and goodness can come forth from me instead. Human wisdom and understanding 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 say and explain things to people in a good and peaceful way, without any sign of hardness or bitterness.
Jesus humbled Himself. Instead of trying hard to create a good name for Himself – putting Himself on the foreground and always trying to get others to agree with Him and support Him – He cared only about what God thought about Him. He didn’t try to become greater and more important in people’s eyes, but instead humbled Himself under God’s mighty hand. (1 Peter 5:6.) We read about Him that He was “gentle and humble in heart”. Matthew 11:29 (NAS).
When I also only care about this one thing – doing God’s will – everything is very simple! I can react to each situation just as it is written in God’s Word, and as I do this, God will help me to understand more and more of His Word and will.
When I am obedient to what I understand in simple faithfulness, I become more and more humble, kind, patient, good, and full of love and care for the others. These things begin to replace the pride, stubbornness, and stiffness that lives in my nature, and I experience that I become more and more pleasing to the One who I am following, Jesus Christ!