Settling Our Disagreements

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We have all heard the story of the Hatfields and McCoys; two families who were at war from 1863 to 1891. Though few today know the details of their disagreement, the lengthy fight between the two families is legendary. Sadly, it is far from being the only famous feud.

In the October 7, 2021, Our Daily Bread, Dave Branson wrote about another bitter conflict that occurred around the same time between inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Edison believed direct electrical current (DC) was the superior electric format. Tesla favored alternating current (AC). Eventually AC won out since it can be transmitted more efficiently over far greater distances. However, both modes are still used; our homes and businesses are powered by AC, while batteries use DC.

The book of Acts records the story of the missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. The two worked well together on their first mission trip even though Barnabas’ cousin, John Mark, abandoned them before their journey ended. As the two missionaries prepared for their second trip, a sharp disagreement developed about whether to allow John Mark to accompany them (Acts 15:36-41). It was years before Paul finally acknowledged John Mark as a valued co-worker in spreading the gospel.

This is far from the only contentious relationship in the Bible: Cain killed Abel in Genesis 4. Brothers Jacob and Esau fought each other like quarrelling siblings as youngsters and only partially reconciled when they got older (Genesis 25-33).

Even among Jesus’ disciples when James’ and John’s mother asked Jesus to grant her sons the highest places of honor in his kingdom, the other disciples responded with indignation (Matthew 20:20-24).

It would be nice if believers rarely argued or disagreed, but sadly that is not the case. Consider the Apostle Paul’s words, “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” (Philippians 4:2, NLT) The women Paul addressed needed to get along for God’s sake.

The reality is we are not always going to agree. In fact, if you look closely at Paul’s words you will notice he did not require the two women to think the same way, he did, however, insist they settle their disagreement. I have often heard my own dad say, “you can disagree without being disagreeable.” I would like to think as Paul penned these words he was reflecting on his fight with Barnabas and remembering his friend had been right.

Many have strong opinions and are eager to share them. That is not bad. However, while being right is good, being committed to getting along even when we disagree is especially needed today. Those committed to following Jesus need to remember Paul’s words, “Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” In today’s contentious world, we desperately need to each put Paul’s perceptive challenge into practice.

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