How to know your Bible without being a jerk

Allen Cothran

I love the Bible. I also love to be right. So I get it.

When my ego gets involved in spiritual conversations, I can wield the Bible as a weapon to prove my point with the best of the Pharisees. But the Bible isn’t a proof text. It wasn’t written to help us win arguments, but to speak to our hearts. The Bible is God’s message of love and hope to a hurting world. But you wouldn’t know it from the way Christians talk about  it.

On social media, religious rhetoric is repeated without thought, verses are shared without context, and complex theological points are boiled down to catchphrases in an effort to get the last word. To win.

In a world where winning matters more than understanding, standing for what we believe in can be dangerous. As the language becomes increasingly polarizing and often cruel, we can defend God’s truth while showing His love if we’ll keep six points in mind.

6 Tips For Showing Love While Standing Up For Your Faith

1.  Keep first things first.

In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus sums the commandments up in two points: love God and love others. Jesus does not get caught up in worship styles or what people wear. He does not make arguments for or against baptizing babies. Jesus teaches love as the primary message of the Gospel.

2.  Consider others more important than ourselves.

Philippians 2:3 says we are to value others above ourselves. If at any point, my communication with others moves from pointing them to God to convincing them I'm right, I am failing.

3.   Be humble.

Proverbs 11:2  says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

When I approach an issue with humility, I’m able to acknowledge that godly, intelligent people can have disagreements. Sometimes I like to play God. My life experience has proven I am not, but I can still fall into the trap of thinking God needs my help to make His point. The truth is that God shows His grace by allowing us to be part of His plan.

4.   Know that God is in control.

At times, we are 100 percent certain we are right. In those times, it can be frustrating to see someone choose the other side of our position.

Just like I am not God, I am also not the Holy Spirit. Trust in the fact that God’s ways are not ours ways, and He is in control. His ways are perfect — better than anything we can ask or imagine —and He will change our minds in His way and in His time.

5.  Go to others the way the Bible teaches.

Matthew 18:15 lays out the specific way we are expected to approach Christians we believe are living in sin. First, we are to go privately. Next, we are to take another believer. What is not taught anywhere in Scripture is to take to social media with name calling and intellectual bullying.

6.  Choose love over winning.

In John 8, the religious leaders of the day bring a woman before Jesus. She has been proven sinful. There was no doubt she deserved punishment, yet Jesus offered only grace and direction. He did not tolerate her sin, but he did not condemn her either. Jesus set the example we are to follow: Conviction is more valuable than condemnation.

Public figures are easy targets. Hot-button issues are sure to incite strong feelings. Resorting to name-calling and shallow arguments does not glorify God, particularly among people professing to believe God’s word. God is not a God of confusion or division.

The message of the Gospel is one of grace, hope, and love.  Let us live in that truth, and agree to disagree without being disagreeable.  

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