Maybe you’ve been scrolling through some spicy social media comment wars and wondering what to do. Or maybe you’re just overwhelmed by all the division you’re seeing in a chaotic year. So what can you do? How can you spread love and kindness—even when you disagree with someone? In this excerpt from the How to Love People You Disagree With Bible Plan, we’ll discover how to show respect to others no matter what.
To show respect to someone means that we esteem them. Even if we don’t agree with someone’s stance, we can still treat them respectfully. It’s not about feeling respect for them but showing it to them.
If you want to learn how to show respect to others, try spending time with someone who doesn’t agree with you. Showing respect when we think someone else’s viewpoint or belief system is completely wrong can be challenging. But there are some things we can do as we interact with others who don’t share our worldview and beliefs.
1. Ask questions respectfully.
When we ask questions respectfully, we open a doorway to learn why someone believes what they do. It gives us a peek inside their hearts and minds and allows us to really see them. Instead of making condescending statements when someone shares their opinion, try asking, “How did you come to that belief?” We respect others by actually showing respect in the way we ask and answer questions.
2. Don’t say it in a mean way.
Disagreeing with someone isn’t a huge deal, and is easy to deal with if the situation doesn’t get heated. Unfortunately, we get bothered when someone doesn’t see a situation the way we do or have the same viewpoint.
When that happens, we lash out with our words and display an equal annoyance with our facial expressions, which can wound to the point where restoration may not be impossible, but it might be unlikely. So consider how you want to be treated (see Luke 6:31). Let’s leave meanness out of the disagreement equation.
3. Avoid arguments.
Most arguments are pointless. We only have so much energy each day, and to give it to wasteful and time-zapping arguments, including ones on social media, means we have nothing left in our relational reserves for those closest to us.
You might say, “But I need them to hear my point!” Why? To win the argument? To sound smarter? We can’t change people. We can only change ourselves and be in control of how we respond. Don’t let argument-prone people dictate your actions. If the other person just wants to argue, then asking questions isn’t worth your time. If someone in your life, whether they’re a family member or acquaintance, is trying to annoy you, consider walking away. Those kinds of interactions do nothing to build a bridge in a relationship. They only strain it more.
As followers of Jesus, we should set the standard for respect because of who Jesus is in our lives. He doesn’t force us to follow Him but died on the cross so we could choose to. Let’s represent Him well as we come into contact with those who know Him and those who don’t. Let’s lovingly discuss with our fellow believers and also not expect non-Christians to act like Christians. And as we show people respect in how we treat them, we can trust that God is working in the situation.