In Galatians 2, we get a glimpse of Paul trying to sort out a big theological problem in the early Church. The leaders had to decide if Gentile believers had to be circumcised like their Jewish brothers. Those deep discussions concluded with James, Peter, and John giving Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (shaking their hands) and sending them on their way to preach to the Gentiles.
Embedded in that passage are some important principles that apply to our lives today. From time to time, we too have serious conflict with those around us. You want your child to choose college, but they want a surfing career. Your daughter brings home her girlfriend. Your employer requires sensitivity training that promotes principles the Bible opposes.
Your spouse wants to buy that bigger house, and you want to increase your giving to missions.
The list goes on and on.
So what do we do? Pastor Jason gave us a number of practical suggestions to help us handle those difficult conversations. He told us to start small and make sure the timing was right. A great discussion can quickly go sideways if the timing isn’t perfect.
He emphasized the need to be respectful. We can respect and appreciate the other person, even when we are diametrically opposed to their position. Using a conversational approach really helps to avoid the sense that you are debating in a courtroom. The key to that kind of approach is to keep your motive pure. The topic isn’t just your preference, you hope to come to an understanding that is true to God’s Word.
Remember that “different strokes for different folks” is a policy that works at home, in the office, and in a neighborhood. Especially in difficult conversations, wisdom teaches that different approaches can accomplish the same goal. Consider your audience.
Compromise, consideration, and concessions are all great goals for many discussions, but occasionally the issue really matters. Sometimes, we just have to take a stand and hold to the precepts found in Scripture. When that happens, remember to be standing for God’s principles, not your preferences.
Our goal is to advance the mission we have received from the Lord. Our tough conversations have a purpose. We are not just letting off steam. Fighting verbal battles is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Instead, let’s make sure we are submitting our mission to His. We are trying to win the approval of God, not men (Galatians 1:10).
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13