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How to Let the Gospel Drive Your Disagreements - Part 2 - Two Ears and One Mouth

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In Part Two of this series, Rob builds the second foundational layer for handling disagreements with one another: listening twice as much as you talk.
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  Gospel-Driven Disagreements, Part 1 1 Rob Wilkrson How to Let the GospelDrive Your DisagreementsPart 2 Remember God Gave YOU TWO Ears and ONE Mouth  Gospel-Driven Disagreements, Part 1 2 Rob Wilkrson Introduction The greatest mistake we make when we find ourselves either approaching or already embroiledin a disagreement is opening our mouths too soon. There ’ s an old saying which reminds us thatGod gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason, namely to teach us that we should listentwice as much as we talk. Instead, most of us make the immediate assumption that we areright, and the other person is wrong. So we ask little if any questions, and presume we havealready concluded what the real  issue is, choosing to argue from there. When the other persondoesn ’ t agree with us we do several things.    We say what we said again, thinking that if we repeat ourselves, they will get it andagree with us.    We say what we said one more time, but a little louder, thinking that if the noise level of our viewpoint increases in their ears and head, they will get it and agree with us.    We say what we said one more time, but a little louder, and with anger, thinking that if they see how passionate we are about what we think, they will get it and agree with us.    We say what we said one more time, a little louder, with anger, and  with bitter closure,thinking that if they see how hurt we are, they will see how wrong they were and howright we are, and get it and agree with us.The root issue here in this kind of response to disagreement is pride and selfishness. WE wantto be right. We WANT to be right. And we want to be RIGHT. A heart that is filled with pridehates to be wrong … ever. So they feel the incessant need to explain away what they have done,or to surround what they ’ ve done with excuses and reasons, or they talk someone to death.The cure here for this poisonous root of pride is … humility.    Those who are humble don ’t instantaneously assume they are the ones who are right in a disagreement, because they assume they don ’t know everything, and therefore have something to learn.    They don ’t feel the need to repeat themselves, because they believe that once theyhave made their case or argument, it is time to listen to the other person ’ s point of view, since they will probably have something to say that is as legitimate as what wehad to say.    They don ’ t feel the need to talk louder, over the other person, or interrupt them,because they assume that the other person ’ s explanations are as valid, if not more valid,than their own.    They don ’ t feel the need to get angry or usher bitter closure to a disagreement, becausethey assume that it takes time to process information and discussion. Therefore, theylisten more than they talk, leaving the disagreement with the intention to examine andthink more deeply about what they heard.When each person in a disagreement enters it with humility instead of pride, the disagreementwill definitely take longer to work through. And that ’ s where the rub is. We want to be  Gospel-Driven Disagreements, Part 1 3 Rob Wilkrson right … and we want to be right, RIGHT NOW! But a humble person knows that this is not reality.A humble person knows that the time it takes to process and work through a disagreementmeans that both parties will grow in wisdom and understanding (intellectually), as well as inlove for one another (spiritually). Trying to work through a disagreement too quickly showspride which motivates impatience toward the process. But humility knows that this is just afact of life if we want to handle the disagreement with honesty and integrity. What the Bible Says So what does the Bible say about pride and humility when it comes to our communication witheach other? I want to focus primarily on two books, Proverbs and James, both of which seemto address this issue with the greatest emphasis. 1.   Proverbs has the most to say about our attitude toward and communication with otherpeople. It is chock full of God ’ s wisdom for those who want to follow Jesus Christ. One of the great themes is wisdom versus foolishness, pride versus humility. And thedistinguishing mark of wisdom is that it keeps a person ’ s mouth shut more than it is open.It makes one listen twice as much as he/she talks. Proverbs 17:28 is a humorous saying,repeated often by my grandfather when growing up (then by my mother), that sets thetable for the following texts I want to share with you. “ Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent;With their mouths shut, they seem intelligent! ”  Centuries after this Proverb was record, its truth was concretely established in the firstcentury Roman culture by Publilius Syrus, “L et a fool hold his tongue and he will be passedfor a sage ” (First Century BC, Maxim 914 ). This bit of wisdom was forever enscripturated inour American culture by President Abraham Lincoln who paraphrased this Proverb: “ Betterto remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. ” A famouscontemporary of Lincoln, journalist and editorialist Ambrose Bierce, defined as a “ bore, ”   “ aperson who talks when you wish him to listen. ” A century later, journalist and editorialistFrank Tyger stated it most simply when he wrote, “ Be a good listener. Your ears will neverget you in trouble! ”  In the end, disagreements should be marked by more listening than speaking. To be sure,someone has to speak, because that ’ s the way discussion happens. But the distinguishingmark of wise people involved in a disagreement is, according to Stephen Covey ’ s SevenHabit of Highly Effective People , they “ seek first to understand, then to be understood. ”      10:19 , in one translation, teaches that, “When wor ds are many, sin is not absent, but hewho holds his tongue is wise ” (NIV). In a sense, it seems to be saying that whensomeone has to run their mouth so much about something, they are probably coveringup sin. In another translation we read, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut ” (NLT). That seems teach that if you are person who talks too  Gospel-Driven Disagreements, Part 1 4 Rob Wilkrson much, you will probably end up saying sinful things. In either case, the unarguable pointof the last phrase is to remember that you have two ears and one mouth, therefore talkhalf as much as you listen, which for some of you, will be quite a feat, I ’m sure!   Cease conversations that seem as if there is no restraint being exercised on the part of the one who is talking to you. Cease conversations in which you sense that thisperson is talking too freely about whatever is coming to his or her mind.    In 10:12; 16:28; 20:3 , we learn that it is wise to cease discussing our disagreements atall when they just turn into strife and conflict all the time. Instead, humility says we areto seek peace with others we ultimately disagree with by covering everything with love. Cease conversations which stir up strife or ones that do not seek peace by coveringeverything with love.    In 10:18 , we are taught that humility is not presumptive. That is, humble people don ’ tspeak into disagreements they aren ’ t even involved in. In addition, humble peopledon ’ t involve themselves in communication that makes them change their view of another person and impugn their character, or think evil of them. Cease conversations that speak to issues in which you were not involved. Ceaseconversations that cause you to draw conclusions that change your view of andimpugn the character of another.    In 11:9 we are taught about prideful people that, “ With their words, the godless destroytheir friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous. ” When you disagree withsomeone, what you say can destroy someone you call your friend. But humility tells youto remember to keep your mouth shut, which will rescue you and your friendship. Cease conversations that destroy person or tear them down in anyway.    In 11:12 , a similar piece of wisdom is taught this way: “ It is foolish to belittle one ’ sneighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet. ” When you are in a disagreement, pride willtell you when you are around your friends to make fun of the person you disagree with. Cease conversations where you sense that the one talking to you despises the one(s)they talk about.    In 11:13, there is wisdom for those who encounter gossip, which is almost alwayspresent when it comes to disagreements between people. “ A gossip goes around tellingsecrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. ” When you have adisagreement with someone, don ’ t go around spreading what they said.
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