How Should Christians Handle Disagreement? Be Merciful

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In our day-to-day lives, we occasionally stumble upon people we don’t agree with. Sometimes we disagree on big things and sometimes on small things, though if you’re disagreeing with someone you’re close to, it tends to sting more.

I suppose it’s natural to want to avoid disagreement. After all, we just want to belong and fit in. But what should we do about it? Should we place our beliefs above those we love, or below?

What’s in their Heart?

Sometimes we hold fast to specific beliefs because they are tied to something personal within us, be it an emotional issue or not.

If that’s the case, when we encounter someone defending their beliefs so passionately, it might help to overlook what they are saying in favor of understanding where they are coming from first. 

What’s in the heart of that person, and what drives it? 

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As an example, let me share an expèrience I’ve had with this. 

A friend of mine once told me that she believes in the principle of “love yourself first.” She places a lot of emphasis on her own needs, putting herself before others and loving herself above others. 

After spending time with her, I learned that her beliefs stem from the fact that she is so hard on herself. Her views are sort of a projection of that. She is a perfectionist, not only with external things but also with herself.

Long story short, she just wants a pat on the back. If no one is going to give it to her, she is willing to give it to herself. 

Knowing where she’s coming from helps me understand her better. Even if we disagree, I get it.

Mercy, Not Judgment

Jesus was the first to hang out with people who led lives and believed things He didn’t agree with. He gave them a chance nonetheless.

As He says: 

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” 

Matthew 9:13

Some translations of the quote from Matthew say “judgment” instead of sacrifice.

That person in front of you may just need some understanding or a heart-to-heart talk rather than an intellectual debate.

Love Your Enemies

At the end of the day, I think it boils down to practicing unconditional love. Caring and showing a genuine interest in being there for someone as a friend first might go a long way later. 

For you animation lovers, there is a movie called How to Train Your Dragon that deals with a similar topic.

 A boy shoots down a dragon with the intent to kill it and takes away his ability to fly on his own. The boy and the dragon go on to make amends and establish an incredibly strong bond. 

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Here’s what we can get out of this: 

Isn’t it beautiful to see two enemies coming together and becoming best friends in a story, despite having done awful things to each other? It touches my heart every time I see it. (Full disclosure: this has become one of my favorite movies ever.) 

Let’s do what Jesus did and try to see what’s in a person’s heart. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little compassion.

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