In our dealings with people who do not necessarily believe the same as we do, some of us have a tendency to attack that person’s beliefs. This especially happens on Internet forums, where the flow usually goes like this: One guy says one thing, the other guy says something else. They argue points back and forth until eventually one or both of them goes further and questions the other’s salvation status, eternal destination, integrity, parentage or any mix of the above.
This is not the way it should be!
Especially when the argument is between two Christians and at least one of them is a proponent of a harsh doctrine, such as excluding minority or outcast groups – say homeless or gay people – from Church. Because then, those outside see the harsh attitude – and the way even we more gentle, Grace-believing people respond – and project that onto our loving Heavenly Father. “If that’s how those people represent their god”, they think, “I want nothing to do with him, because if he’s anything like his ‘people’ then he’s not worth bothering with”.
And, given the data they are working from, I would tend to agree. But God is not like that, and we need to find better ways of interacting with others in a non-judgemental fashion. Only in that way can dialogue be maintaned without its breaking down into vitriolic rhetoric.
I love the Col 4:6 passage quoted in the header image: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone“. If it’s not full of Grace, it’s not full of Jesus. And the ‘seasoned with salt’ bit means make it tasty, make it interesting. (NLT says ‘Gracious and attractive’) And Proverbs 16:24 – “Gracious words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”. Talk nicely to people, whether face-to-face or online! In that way, at least, other readers – and never forget that there are far more people reading forums than comment on them! – will see that your speech is wholesome and good. And that reflects a ‘Good Witness’ to God’s character developing in you, rather than a ‘Bad Witness‘!
I’d say to so many of the harsh, critical people who lacerate others on forums and elsewhere: Where is your joy? Where is Jesus in your conversation? Where is the conversation full of Grace? The best witness is not dry, out-of-context Scripture passages used as ‘Scripture-bombs‘, but a life of fulness and joy. It’s far better to live the Spirit-filled life and have people ask why you are different. People notice that sort of thing! As Jesus said, a city on a hill cannot be hidden! So, let your speech always be full of Grace!
Here are a couple of interesting articles giving another slant on these ideas. Firstly, an older article about what the Graceful, salt-seasoned speech would look like (click the image to go to the article):
…and then, in this next article, the writer brings to our attention the important point that not everyone is going to believe the same things as everyone else. The way to deal with this is simply to accept that as axiomatic, and stop trying to ‘defend God’ – He’s perfectly capable of defending Himself, thank you very much 🙂 (again, click the image):
…and finally, my own take on coping with people with different views: (you know the drill by now):
This is really important stuff. The manner of your speech (or writing) – your communications – when Graceful and seasoned with salt, makes a tremendous difference. Even if you don’t ‘win’ your discussion – and don’t forget that the types of people who write on forums will be just as strongly opinionated as you might be, so you probably won’t! – even if you don’t ‘win’, still at least others will see and be impressed by your Graceful speech. And this then reflects well on your Father in Heaven.
Go to it – with Grace!
“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man” – Colossians 4:6
4 thoughts on “The Graceful Approach”
Very well said, and this is something that NEEDS to be said–over and over. Believers will disagree, but we can be civil. Both the good news of Jesus and the promotion of healthy beliefs should be delivered gently–not aggressively.
Well said Dad. Very true words. X
Good article. Jesus loved, accepted and spent time with all kinds of people showing the love of God to each one.
I have caught myself being guilty of this myself, and always feel so bad afterward for the very reasons you have mentioned here: it looks bad to those who are on the outside, and God can defend Himself.
I have discovered a lot of insecurity and anger in my life caused by past events that I have used for too long as justification for this kind of thing, and it’s way past time I let it go.
I just want to fully embrace the freedom that spirit brings and lead others to it as best I can.
Your article is a great example of how to do this.
Actions always speak the truth where words often don’t.