Monday, February 22, 2010
Argument For No Purpose
Day 6 - The Argumentative Tongue
The person described in today's passage does not much describe me anymore. While I got paid to argue in my former life as a litigator, it was argument from facts and law, prepared to the last word, and not intended to be contentious or emotional. I could do that because I had time before trial to carefully marshal my resources. In my early years as an advocate though, I was just as obnoxious as the next lawyer as I embraced every position with passion. I had trouble letting it go after a trial, still wanting to go to the other side and convince them I was right. God has a funny sense of humor though.
Now He has me living in the Washington, D.C. region where it seems like everyone is a zealot about SOMETHING. Since I live in a fairly liberal part of the area, but am very conservative, I often feel my values are attacked. (It is interesting how people 'assume' that I share their values because of where we have chosen to live. They also assume it is okay to denigrate the other side of a question or issue and because they are not schooled in polite disagreement, any opposite opinion just earns scathing character attacks.) Despite the Lord having provided me with the education and training to argue effectively, He has me living someplace where there's no GAIN for Him if I do!
When people are zealots, there's no arguing with them. It is just a waste of energy and time. I learned from a master of deflection that when someone trumpets a declaration with which I disagree to say, "it might appear that way" and then smile and DO NOT ENGAGE. It usually stops them for a moment. This is particularly helpful at church and then of course with believers in Christ I can suggest that we should all be praying about what God's will is for whatever the situation is.
But, my argumentative nature is usually going on inside my head these days, so while other people don't have to listen to it, I'm sure God gets tired of it!
The very last paragraph in today's reading says, "If you have a tendency to be contentious or argumentative, remember that it costs you absolutely nothing to respect someone's opinion -- especially on matters that have no eternal consequences." That last part is where I often have difficulty now though. I am surrounded by so many people who have really distorted ideas about Jesus (sometimes within the church even) that I DO want to argue with them. But I'm reminded that no one ever 'argued' anyone else into the kingdom. I need to live my life in a way that makes the argument for me.