Deep Convictions, Kind Conversations
We have a dog. My wife and I like dogs, so long as they don’t live at our house; but we also have kids. So, we have a dog.
My nightly routine includes taking the dog out. Normally, this takes five minutes, but not the other night. That night, I was outside for 45 minutes because I met new neighbors! They live way down the street, but as we crossed paths, I said “hi.” That simple hello led me to learning everything they thought about all that is going on in our nation and world. And I didn’t even have to ask!
What’s the point? We’re currently facing significant national and global issues, and everybody has deeply held thoughts and feelings about these issues. I have them, and you do, too.
So, as society reopens and we begin to cross paths with more people, what should be our framework for interacting with others?
Here’s a helpful verse:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
Paul’s clarity is unmistakable.
Have you figured out you can’t control other people? It’s a humbling realization! Romans 12:18 says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” God holds me accountable for my words (Matthew 12:36), and I’m to speak “only what is helpful for building others up” (Ephesians 4:29).
No exceptions. Another person’s words, tone, expressions, or actions are never justification for a poor response or errant word on my part. God doesn’t allow me that.
This approach to conversation is countercultural. Our world values and our flesh loves: the quick-witted response; being able to ‘slam,’ ‘crush’ or ‘own’ the other; and the ability to provide a quick, even if unfair and lacking in nuance, caricature of a position or viewpoint simply to show the superiority of our own.
And yet, it is “God’s kindness” that leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4). As we abide in Christ, our lives are to be increasingly marked by “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
So, here’s the big idea –
- Is it wrong to have strongly held views on any number of issues? No.
- Are some views objectively better than others—stronger factual basis, more aligned with biblical values, etc.? Yes.
- Can people be unfair, misinformed, rude, and sometimes, just plain mean? Of course (ourselves included).
Still, the call remains: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”(Colossians 4:6).