When you have an argument you have a choice: you can win or you can love. The word “love” in this phrase seems awkward and out of place, doesn’t it? The conventional wording is you can win or you can lose. But as with other things in the Christian life, God’s ways are radically different than our own.
The idea that an argument or discussion is about winning or losing is flawed at its core. God has called us to honor him with love and not be focused on winning or losing arguments. What a novel thought!
Instead of winning arguments the Holy Spirit calls you to love, that is to be patient, not be rude or self-seeking, not to be easily angered, not to keep a record of wrongs and not to rejoice when the other person stumbles or doesn’t get his facts right.
How are we supposed to win arguments if we can’t use those tactics? Ah, you get the point! Winning arguments is not what God has called you and me to do! God has called you to love when there is an argument.
How does that happen?!?
I Corinthians 13:4-7 describes in part how God wants you to love your way through an argument.
Be patient: this means you listen before you speak. It means you don’t have to have the last word. It means you carefully consider what you are hearing. When there is an argument it is all too easy to think you know what the other person is thinking even before the first word is spoken. The Bible calls this answering before listening. It is a shameful thing.
Be kind: this means zingers and reminding the other person of his weaknesses are not appropriate ways to show love and honor God.
Avoid boasting, pride and rudeness: while these tactics may help “win” arguments they are not honoring to God and are destructive to relationships.
Don’t keep a record of wrongs: this one is huge. When arguments occur reminding your “opponent” of how often he has been wrong is something that is used to gain victory. However, “victories” obtained this way are shallow ones at best.
Don’t become easily angered: again being easily angered is one of the necessary components to starting an argument, keeping it going and seeking to win it.
Love means your objective is to: protect, trust, hope and persevere. These are not exactly the tools that we think of to win arguments.
Yes, there are times when it is important to stand up for the truth or to right a wrong. But this isn’t the case for the majority of conflicts you and your family face. Pursue love and not “winning.”
Ask God for his grace to make arguments not about winning and losing. Rather, instead of arguing, pursue love with a deep passion to honor God and seek the good of the person you are in conflict with.
Love is not the best way to “win” an argument. But it is the best way to bring honor God and truly care for those you love.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.