“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” – Philippians 4:2
Anytime humans are involved, there will be disagreements. With our fallen nature comes selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-exaltation. When two fallen creatures approach one another, there will be conflict, and disagreements. It is inevitable. Whether it be disagreements in the church, politics, or at home, disagreements are coming. That being said, there is a right and a wrong way to disagree.
Paul in Philippians 4:2 is calling Eudoia and Syntyche to agree, because there was a disagreement of sorts. The Bible doesn’t specify what the disagreement was over, it only gives us enough to know that they disagreed to some degree. Which leads us to understand that we won’t always agree whole-heartedly with each other, and that’s ok. When Paul says in Philippians 2:2, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” He begins that verse with the phrase, ‘one mind’ and ends by saying ‘same mind’. The idea in the text isn’t that they fully agree on everything, but that they have the same attitude in everything. That they should approach the things of God in full surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and attempt to agree peacefully. He understands that they might not all draw the same conclusions, but they must have a Christ-centered mindset on the path to their conclusions.
In the climate of our country today, I think it would do everyone good to evaluate the way they disagree with a person. Today in our culture hostilities are abounding, and peace is going by the wayside. Disagreements turn violent, opinions and emotions reign supreme, and there is no attempt to seek what is true. I am writing this in hopes that we will all take a look in the mirror, and evaluate whether or not we are really being Christ-like in our disagreements.
Here are 7 ways to approach a disagreement:
- Find common ground
Paul said to these two women who were disagreeing in the church to ‘agree in the Lord.’ In other words, agree that Christ is our common treasure, love, and singular passion. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that every single Christian in the world should agree upon. There are fundamentals of the faith that must be agreed upon, otherwise you are not Christian. If your disagreement is about a fundamental issue of faith, you must not compromise. But if it is merely a personal conviction, not really rooted in the Scriptures, you must find common ground. Start the conversation where you both agree, and then venture out from there, until you are able to see where it is you go in different directions.
2. Disagree prayerfully
“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all saints.” – Ephesians 6:18
Notice the text calls you to pray for all saints, not just saints who fully agree with you. If you are in a disagreement with someone, do not be so selfish that you are not willing to pray for the person. You should never be in a disagreement with another person that you are not praying for. Many of our disagreements are solved by prayer, and many of our disagreements are created by an environment of prayerlessness. If you truly believe the other person is in need of a change of mind, or change of heart, only God can do that. So, trying to argue them into your position is impossible apart from prayer. Pray for those you disagree with.
3. Seek peace, and truth, above victory
“Let him turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.” – 1 Peter 3:11
The goal in the midst of a disagreement should never be a mere victory. The goal is not to walk away victorious, but to walk away in peace. The aim is to walk away more edified, more informed, and truth reigning supreme. All disagreements stem from believing your position is the truth, and their position is false. So, the aim isn’t to win, but in the end to find what is true, and have peace with one another based off of the truth.
4. Strive to understand
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” – Proverbs 18:2
You must put in effort to truly understand your opponents position. Wise people take time to truly listen, understand, and work their way out from there. We live in a time where people believe their opinions, not truly rooted in the Bible, are the authoritative truth, and everyone must conform to their opinions. We live in a time where fools opinions are wreaking havoc. So, the goal in a disagreement is to set aside your selfishness, and strive to understand the other persons position. Even then, you may not agree, and that’s ok.
5. Seek the Word for answers
“The Law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” – Psalm 19:7-9
What’s the point of that text? The Scriptures are sufficient. Our common ground must be this: The Scriptures get the last word. The Bible has the answers, and the Bible must be the judge, and jury in any disagreement. The Bible is the standard of truth, and we cannot agree if we don’t have a standard by which we hold ourselves. Otherwise, opinions are the standard, and the expression of those opinions are the weapons of our warfare. This must not be the case. The Bible is where we go for answers in any disagreement.
6. Have a disposition of love
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” – Romans 12:9
Do not pretend to love the person you disagree with, but genuinely love them. In the inner chambers of your heart, examine whether or not your disposition toward this person is in reality a loving disposition. Otherwise, you will not seek the best outcome for both parties, but only for yourself. And worse, you may seek the worst possible outcome for the other person. Let love be genuine, real, and authentic.
7. Ask yourself, am I the problem?
“Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Proverbs 21:2
Every way, of every man, believes that his ways are the right ways. No one is immune to this condition. We all think that our views are the infallible, inerrant views. So, we often times find ourselves in disagreements where, in reality, we are the problem. Therefore, anytime a disagreement has gone way too far, and we can’t seem to find peace, the question becomes, am I the problem? Is it you who needs to repent? Is it you who needs to confess? Is it you who needs a change of heart or mind? Examine yourself, your position, in light of Scripture, and ask yourself am I the problem here?
Disagreements will happen anytime humans are involved, but let us all approach our disagreements in light of the Word, and seek peace and truth above all.