Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15
We spend a lot of time on social media, and in many of our conversations, trying to convince other people of something. There is really nothing wrong with that. When we have strong convictions, we want others to see things our way, believing that is the best for all involved. So, we express our opinion, and we go to some lengths to lay it out in such a manner that people must “surely see that this opinion is correct and full of truth.”
And while we believe that, we often cross the line and make the dangerous leap that if people do not see things our way, they must be dull, or ignorant- uninformed and likely in need of correction. We spend much more time trying to convince others than in listening to a response that may not line up with our opinion.
Of course social media is rife with such rants as the marketplace for public opinion. As one scribe put it, it is the “friction-less platform for publishing ideas”. Everyone has opinions, and many put them to writing. (Including me- right now!) It is available, free, and ubiquitous. Yet the line is crossed when we make the leap that those who do not line up with us are bad or evil, and that their motivations are wrong, even harmful.
I have a list I developed for couples named the “Fair Fighting Rules”. Some of these rules may help in the exchange of ideas. I have listed some of those rules (these are just the last few):
- Speak the truth in love – our job is to speak the truth, not to convince someone of how right we are.
- Allow the possibility of being wrong, or that you may not be seeing the whole picture
- Become aware of your current feeling level (getting angry, frustrated, etc.) and own it- do not blame it on the other person. Your emotional response may be coming from something that is not currently part of the discussion, but from possible past hurts, etc.
- Try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person and understand how they are seeing it. That does not mean that they are “right”, or even that you need to agree with it; just be willing to try to see the world the way that they see it.
It is the last point I want to challenge my readers with. Try to argue the point of the other person. You do not need to agree with it. Indeed, you probably do not. But, try to argue it from their worldview. In trials, a good prosecutor can argue the defense case very well, and vice versa. It helps to shape our own position, and might even challenge it. Allowing for a truth we do not see is important, even invaluable. If you can really understand the worldview of the one with whom you disagree, it may be easier to trust their motives.
If you cannot convince the other person, fine. Just be content with having done your job- of speaking the truth in love.
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us the minds to reason, and the grace to listen, Amen