How to Treat Others With Whom You Disagree

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The solution to this ordinary problem is really very simple...if we apply the gospel. Too often the tendency is to lower our esteem of them, or our opinion of them, our respect of them. But the gospel teaches us to treat others as God treats us in Christ.

When God looks at me, He sees Christ. Justification is in full force when I sin, for God sees me and treats me as one who is right with Him. In the same way, applying justification to others with whom we disagree means that when I look at that person, I choose to see Christ. Choosing to see them as God sees them eliminates or circumvents the faulty faculty of human reasoning and emotion. That part of us is fallen, and it reasons that since they disagree with us, our feelings are offended or altered in such a way that we don't feel the same way about them anymore, nor do we feel the same way toward them. Instantaneously, our fallen souls lower the esteem we formerly had for that person, and a new behavior toward them emanates.

But if we can capture our hearts in that moment, before our sinful heart begins to follow its natural habit...and if at that moment we can apply the doctrine of justification to our view of that person, purposing in our heart to view them just as God Himself does - as much as is humanly possible - our relationships cannot help but remain fully in tact.

Try this next time you find yourself disagreeing with a brother or sister in Christ, especially over something that gets your feathers ruffled...something that makes you irritated...something that hurts your feelings...something that offends you. Repeat to yourself the gospel truths about how God views you.

  • You've been made right God through Christ.
  • God has forgiven you of all your sin - past, present, and future because of Christ.
  • God has poured out the riches of His blessings on you in Christ.
  • You have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • You've been reconciled to the Father and made His friend.
  • He has promised His eternal love and favor toward you because of Christ.
  • He will never allow anything to remove you from His preserving Hand.

Now, apply these same gospel truths to the one with whom you disagree, the one who offends or irritates. Repeat them to yourself about the other person. Repeat them several times if need be. The purpose is to repeat them so that the truth will settle into the recesses of your heart and mind, and so that know you will acknowledge, perceive, know, and treat the other person as God does. For it is only in so doing that we will remain united in spirit toward one another as Eph. 4:3 commands us.

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