Sometimes I mean to do the right thing, but fail miserably. I try to keep my mouth shut when someone else is being argumentative, but end up blurting out my defense. I desire to save my money and use it for ministry, but instead I spend it on something frivolous. I want to speak graciously and only words that edify, but fall into the common trap of gossip and criticism instead. I mean to spend the day working hard, but then I hardly work.
I have good intentions, but...
We all know where the path paved with good intentions leads, right? Nowhere! Or at least not very far.
There has to be a better path to take. And indeed, there is. The Bible tells us that when we walk by the Spirit we habitually choose the things of the Spirit, the things of God. But when we yield to our flesh -- our want-to's and feelings and urges -- we end up detouring to the dark side...almost every time.
Not only that, but the Bible serves as a guide book full of directions and warning signs that help keep us on the right path...and off the beaten path, where most people end up living in defeat, unfortunately.
For the next couple of weeks we'll look at some very basic biblical principles and truths, as well as a few practical applications that can surely help us resist the urge to...
- argue back
- waste our time with laziness or distraction
- participate in gossip and critical talk
- defend ourselves to others
- lose our temper
- talk too much and spew our opinions
- waste our money on frivolous things
- over eat
- and more...
I hope you'll join me for this journey. Each day I'll give you a focal Bible verse to meditate on and even memorize. Then I'll give you some suggestions about how to pray on the particular temptation. But I'll also supply you with some very practical things to do and/or think on.
Let's get started!
How to resist the urge to... argue back.
While there is a place and time for an honest and honorable discussion about differences of opinion or desire, an argument is a different matter all together. To argue is to go to great lengths to persuade another person to see things the way you do. The implication is that you are pulling out all the stops to win the other person over to your side. You're building your case, often one divisive brick after another, stacked up to the point that reconciliation becomes more and more difficult. And sometimes we even take those bricks and start hurling them at our "opponent."
But the Bible says in James 4:1-10 that all our fighting is for not, and that arguing says something undesirable about our basic disposition. An argumentative spirit indicates we are selfish (v. 1), envious (v. 2), misdirected (v. 2), manipulative (v. 3), proud (v. 6) and even in cahoots with the devil, the accuser of the brethren (v. 7).
I don't want to be an argumentative person. My bet is you don't either. But, like me, you probably find that intending to stay clear of arguments is not protection enough from this insidious habit. So what's a gal to do?
First of all, meditate on and memorize James 1:19:
This you know, my beloved brethren.
But let everyone be quick to hear,
slow to speak and slow to anger.
Next, as you mediate on this biblical instruction, pray something like this:
Father, I find that most of my arguments are born out of a need to be right or to prove my point. Help me instead be willing and eager to hear the other person's viewpoint. Help me to listen to the other person with patience, grace, kindness, and good will. And then help me to think through what they have said before I even begin to formulate a response. You know I am prone to build my case before the other person is even through stating theirs. This is evidence of my pride and arrogance. Help me instead to be an intentional and humble listener. Help me also to formulate my response so that it does not demean or insult the other person. And when they still don't agree with me, help me resist the urge to become angry.
Finally, here are a few practical suggestions founded on biblical precepts:
- Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord. It's an act of the will which means to intentionally align yourself under the Lord's protection and His authority. There He can defend you, so you don't have to.
- Stay away from argumentative people, and when you have to be in their presence, realize the danger ahead of time so you can "humble yourself in the presence of the Lord" as stated above. (Proverbs 23:9)
- Respond with gentleness when someone tries to pick a fight. (Proverbs 15:1)
- Take your time and think carefully before you respond, not so you can respond with a calculated defense, but so you can speak in a respectful and honorable way. (Proverbs 15:28 & Proverbs 18:13)
- Consider humbly that the other person may be right. Allow others to correct you without become defensive. (Proverbs 15:31-32)
- Refuse to quarrel or take sides. Try to come to a compromise or meeting of the minds instead. Dwell on what you and the other person have in common rather than that which divides you. (Proverbs 18:1-2)
- Get plenty of rest and exercise, and eat healthy. When you feel better physically you are less prone to be argumentative and grumpy. (Proverbs 31:17)
What helps you resist the urge to get into a heated argument? We'd love to know!
Labels: discipleship, How to Resist the Urge, temptation, What's in Your Pack