Noah Adams on Disagreeing Wisely

Noah Adams is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Elgin, Ill.


ELGIN, Ill. (BP) – No matter what you believe, what you think, how you vote, or how you live your life, someone is going to disagree with you. Even in church, disagreement is inevitable, especially in this political season. But how do we handle it?

From the Book of Proverbs, I find 13 or so passages about disagreeing wisely. And from those verses, I see six principles to help guide political discussions. They’re not for posting on Facebook for all who disagree with me to see. These verses are for me. (And maybe you.)

  1. Disagree only after listening, hearing and seeking to understand (Proverbs 12:15; 18:2, 13).

These verses are a gut punch to me. Reading them, I realized just how often I “think my own way is right,” just how often I “have no interest in understanding and only want to air my opinion,” and just how often I “give an answer” before I really stop to hear the other person.

I have several close friends who have helped me realize this very practically in my life. I have political disagreements with one and theological disagreements with another. Both are patient enough with a hothead like me to calmly explain their stances. And I am very grateful for both of these friendships because they have helped me begin to grow in wisdom.

  1. Disagree with patience, calmness and gentleness (Proverbs 12:16; 15:1).

Fools get into arguments with people due to quick tempers and harshness. Even when people speak in anger, the wise person doesn’t return the favor. Wisdom responds to disagreement by being slow-tempered, by staying calm when insulted, by refusing to retaliate.

This may be hard to do, but the only way to end escalating insults is for one person to respond with a gentle answer. Proverbs says a gentle answer will deflect the anger. Bullying rarely leads to unity.

  1. Disagreeing wisely can be persuasive or beneficial (Proverbs 15:2; 16:21-24; 18:20).

Solomon calls an attack of insults “belching out foolishness.” By contrast, wise words “satisfy like a good meal” and “bring satisfaction.” Healthy, wise, godly disagreement is defined by pleasant words, kindness, wisdom, and self-control. Pleasant words are persuasive. And even if we don’t persuade the other person, our demeanor makes all the difference. The other person can walk away saying, “Well, I sure disagree with them, but at least that Christian listened to me.”

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Source: Baptist Press