I call them Foxnews republicans. They are the ones who say a lot of the things I agree with but with such cold indifference for anyone who would disagree that I find myself almost wishing I didn’t agree with them and often looking for reasons to disagree. The gospel is so counter intuitive to everything our sinful nature has lead us to believe and pursue that it can be no wonder why so many vehemently oppose the foundational beliefs we hold dear as well as the implications of those beliefs. As that old man holds on I’ve often found it difficult not to respond in the exact same way toward those who disagree with me. However, a clear understanding of the gospel should inform how we interact with those who disagree with us, especially those who do so as a direct result of our allegiance to Christ. Paul helps us in 2 Timothy 2:24-26 to relate to those who disagree with us in a way that honors Christ and may lead our opponent to repentance.
Five ways to speak truth winsomely
- Don’t go looking for an argument. We are convinced that we have the right idea on many issues. There are some issues that are so black and white (abortion, same-sex marriage, gender, etc…) it’s hard to understand how people can’t see the truth. Paul reminds us, “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome.
- Be nice. Disagreement is no reason to mistreat another person. This includes the way you look, speak, and act toward an individual while in their presence or behind their back. This doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the policies or beliefs held by this person and why you think they are wrong, but a Christian should be characterized by kindness whether or not they’ll be challenged. Paul says, “be kind to everyone.” We need to be able to disagree with people and still be kind.
- Believe what you say you believe. In order to actually believe what you say you believe you must study it out for yourself. Paul tells us to be “able to teach.” We can only teach what we know and we can only know what we’ve investigated and if you teach something you’ve investigated but don’t believe then you’re a hypocrite and the Bible has lots to say to you. So, don’t just repeat what you’ve heard from your favorite Bible teacher or talking head on TV. Be a Berean and dig through the Scripture working hard to develop your own convictions.
- Don’t expect them to play nice. We lose our patience often when we receive something we didn’t want unexpectedly. When we plan 10 minutes for a shower, 5 to brush my teeth/hair/get dressed, 5 to get the kids around, 2 to eat breakfast, we have to leave by 8:00AM so I can wake up at 7:38 and then when we’re late we tend to lose patience. However, if we plan to leave at 8:00 get up at 6 because we know it always takes longer than we think and begin getting around at 7 leaving by 7:55 we don’t generally lose our patience. We should expect those who don’t follow Christ, who don’t play by the same rules, who don’t have to Holy Spirit to mistreat us. If we expect it we can be “patiently enduring evil” like Paul encourages us.
- Don’t clobber people you debate. When we debate people even on cut and dry, black and white issues we should have a reputation as one “correcting his opponents with gentleness.” This means we give them time to speak, we listen when they speak, we ask questions, we talk in a conversational tone, and we explain truth in a winsome way. When we win a debate in a heartless way we lost.
Three motivations for winsome truthfulness
- They might get saved. God is sovereign over salvation but He uses human means to accomplish His purpose. More often than not he uses argumentative and harsh Christians to harden unbelievers in their sin rather than win them to Christ. Paul presents winsomeness as a means God uses to draw people to Christ and lead them to repentance and truth.
- They might become rational. Sin is irrational. When sin is all we wanted we were by nature irrational rejecting the one who is Truth. Everyone rejecting Jesus Christ is off their rocker. Paul says by your winsome conduct God might bring them to their senses.
- They might be freed. If we can just understand that everyone who rejects Christ is trapped and ensnared I think it would change how we relate to them. They are in the devil’s snare, for the purpose of doing his will. By our winsome interactions we may be agents of God used to break them out.
Every true Christian cringes when they see religious nuts protesting funerals, screaming as families pass that they’re all going to hell, and the list could go on. However, as the election year rolls around may we be reminded how our Lord commands us to act toward those who disagree with us and often who don’t like us much if at all. May He see fit to use us and our winsome truth telling to draw many to Christ breaking them free from the devil’s snare. Let’s model and instruct our kids to hold to the truth with this kind of winsomeness.