Wondering how to love people you disagree with? While it’s not always easy, there are some helpful things we can do to help us avoid spicy topics with relatives or posting unfiltered opinions all over the internet. Check out this excerpt from the In God We Trust Bible Plan for a few tips.
We’ve all been there. Someone you love and care about makes a statement you disagree with. The rage bubbles in your chest (and sometimes on your keyboard, as you frantically craft the perfect counterstatement), and then your next reaction is to cringe and hide. So what do you do? Do you ever wish there were a formula for responding to conversations that get political, divisive, or overwhelming?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every situation, there are some principles we can apply to diffuse tension and have more productive conversations about the things God cares about. In fact, Micah 6:8 makes a pretty good response strategy when you find yourself in a dicey conversation or situation:
… the Lᴏʀᴅ has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NLT
That’s a much better strategy than spouting off the perfect retort on social media or yelling at your relatives during the holidays, right? So, let’s think about how we can apply those steps when things get heated and heavy.
1. Do what is right. Not what’s easy. Not what’s popular. This may vary depending on the situation, but you can always pause, take a breath, and ask the Holy Spirit what your right next move is. Doing what’s right may mean you actually have an honest, empathetic conversation with someone you disagree with—not to change their mind, but to hear their perspective. It may mean postponing the conversation to a later date, or adjourning to a less public place. It means sticking up for your principles, but never at the expense of hurting people. It often looks like seeking justice—standing up for the oppressed or those who can’t speak for themselves, without standing on anyone else (see Proverbs 31:8-9).
2. Love mercy. This looks a lot like extending grace to someone else, even if you don’t think they deserve it. It’s giving someone the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they didn’t mean to be hurtful with their comments or opinions. It’s showing real empathy and compassion and overlooking any offenses for the sake of restoration in your relationship.
3. Walk humbly. Humility may not always fix your problems, but it makes sure you’re not the problem. When we assume we don’t have all the answers, we have a much better chance of learning something new and keeping our relationships. Jesus often used questions during His ministry, because being curious invites conversation, whereas bringing all of the answers tends to shut it down.
So here’s the thing. We all have a lot of opinions. But it’s a lot more effective to bring people our love. Check out what 1 Corinthians says about that:
… while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. 1 Corinthians 8:1 NLT
It’s okay to have views. It’s okay to advocate for change. In fact, God cares a lot about seeking justice for the oppressed. And it’s definitely a good thing to stand up for what God cares about. But we have to make sure we’re sharing our knowledge with love, or else we’re not building the Church, and we’re likely not bringing the change.
Pray: God, when divisive conversations come up, give me Your attitude. Help me to love like You in every situation. Help me seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with You. Show me how to express my love more than my opinion, and give me the right words to love people in every conversation today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Interested in learning more about navigating disagreements? Then check out this episode of the You’ve Heard It Said podcast: