For those who don’t know, Austin and I met on our Speech and Debate team in college. Our love for speech bred so many things within us that are helpful to our marriage. We are both outgoing. We tend to be confident around groups of people. We can both talk until the sun comes up, so rarely is there ever an end to our conversation.
It also brought one obstacle that every person who ever did speech will probably “Amen” to: we love a good argument.
You see, part of our job in creating ten-minute speeches is to come up with an argument, a stance on an issue. We have to think critically from every angle, actively considering what the opposition might say. The goal is to come out on top of the argument. To be the best.
It’s addictive, really.
Don’t get me wrong, it has helped us immeasurably. We think critically about most things, we defend our faith vigorously, and are great at taking stances on important issues.
It’s also really easy to value those things–those arguments–much more than the person standing across from us.
Romans 12:10 commands, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Honor. The dictionary defines this word first as high respect and esteem. I don’t think I could count the number I honored someone in the midst of an argument on my hand. I can’t because I don’t know that I have.
Hear me say, I am talking about every type of argument. The argument about what’s for dinner, what we are watching tonight, how we will discipline our kids, what is the right religion, who should be president, all of it.
Hear me say, that was hard to type. Yet there are a hand full of subjects I cannot imagine honoring someone who disagrees with me. Even so, when I look at Scripture, I see Paul implore, “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” All of the sudden, I am convicted that even when we are supposed to correct, it has to be in gentleness. It has to be honoring.
When we go back to the breath that birthed humanity, we are faced with the fact that every person–even those we vehemently disagree with, even those who have committed heinous acts–holds the thumbprint of God’s image.
So what next? How do we value souls? How do we find the gentle correction in what we want to be an impassioned dispute?
Let’s ditch our need to be right.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
When the serpent whispered the words of deception to Eve in Eden, he played to humanity’s first and foremost sin: pride. He told her that she could be like God. That she could be known and important.
That’s exactly what we battle when we become so bent on being right. We love the feeling of being more important, of knowing the right way. The scary thing is that sometimes we do know the best way. There are times we are right. But is it so important that shout our rightness from the rooftop?
When we make an argument about being right, we make it about us.
Let’s ditch our fear of being wrong.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
1 Peter 5:6
At first, I thought these two things were the same. Loving being right and hating being wrong are identical, right? My husband graciously corrected me, explaining that yes, they are both born out of a prideful heart, but arguing for fear of being wrong comes from our inclination toward anxiety.
We are horrified at what we might look like in front of others. We fear the opinion of people around us much more than we fear the Word of God.
Let’s dwell on who God is.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
The more we fixate on Father, the more we revere His image.
He put His breath in the first man and woman who walked the earth, and from them, we have all been birthed. He formed us all in the womb for the sole purpose of His glory. We bear bits of Him in our DNA.
And so do they. The person we disagree with most. The person who spits in His face with their view of human dignity. The person who hates Him more than anything, who defames His name, and who spends hours trying to convince the world of His evilness. The person who hates people because of their skin tone. The person who hurts children. The person who laughs at innocence. The person who abuses the vulnerable is made in the image of God.
So what does that mean? Are we to sit back and just let them do whatever because they bear His image? By no means! We do correct, but we do it by sharing of Him, how He has changed us from the inside out. We recognize that under sin and without His blood to cover us, our pride is deeply offensive to His nature. We honor Him and we speak to people as if they are also His child, not yet born into a new life with Christ.
So, sisters and brothers, let us not ignore the injustices of the world. Let us not ignore that which offends God.
But let us be offended by what is abhorrent to Him–not what we is uncomfortable to us.
Let us put aside our need to be right or fear of being wrong in the little things. Let us sit across the table from someone and ask gentle, probing questions rather than typing our fingers raw online.
Christians, when we start valuing souls over arguments, we start recognizing the humanity in this world once again. We can begin seeing through our eyes and not through screens. We can stop thinking in red and blue and start seeing through the scarlet blood that covers our sin.
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How do you reassess your motives during and after arguments?
What do you find to be the hardest part about seeing people as made in God’s image?
**Shout out to Carrie at Sur La Lune Photography for taking the beautiful thumbnail on this post.
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