The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive.Proverbs 16:21 (NLT)
One of the qualities that is in short supply in our world is understanding. There’s an old adage that has made the rounds on the internet again lately. It goes something like this, “People don’t listen to understand any more. They listen to respond.” What this statement means is that we are a people who love to argue. We’ve already made up our mind about things and we don’t want to understand other people’s thoughts. Instead, we want to demonstrate how we are right and they are wrong. Rather than patiently listening to others and asking clarifying questions so that we can grasp where they are coming from, we tend to put together a mental checklist about what we can say which will prove them wrong. Of course, for those who track the political realities of today, you can see this on full display. Everyone is so polarized that they think that those who’s political preferences are different than their own are morons, idiots, or other names that I can’t put in print on a Christian blog.
In our churches around the world, this same attitude is alive in the church family. Topics like church dress, musical style, pews vs. chairs, or Bible version cause people to dig in for a debate rather than seeking an understanding. Additionally, there are entities out there who stir the pot. They are known as “independent ministries.” They are labeled this because they are in no way sponsored or approved by the corporate church. They operate on their own with no accountability. Some of them are awesome. They seek to help spread the gospel. Then there are ministries whose purpose is to tell people they are bad Christians if they don’t agree with their opinions (which they hold up as fact). One organization’s own description of their ministry states, “[Their Name] is a non-profit organization whose mission is to expose deceptions.”
Family, let’s adopt the wisdom on King Solomon into our lives, into our faith journey, and in to our church life. He wrote, “The wise are known for their understanding.” Seek to dialog to understand someone who has a difference of opinion. Steer clear of individuals and organizations who exist to tear others down. Instead, embrace the opportunity to dialog and understand the viewpoints of others, even if they are different than your own.