I'm really good at arguing (especially with family members, let's be honest). The other person's opinion is just so clearly WRONG and I HAVE to tell them exactly how they err!
But something I've been learning, and that God has been gently teaching me, is that you can't fight fire with fire.
I said, you can't fight fire with fire. You have to fight fire with water, soothing, cold water. You fight fire in an argument/discussion with soothing, calm words.
A chap called Beau Taplin (who I'd never heard of until I found this quote he said, but my, his quote is fantastic) said this:
We are all so desperate to be understood, we forget to be understanding.So often, in the heat of the moment, giving into our desire to yell at them and tell them that their opinion is DEFINITELY WRONG is what we do. And of course, we shouldn't.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Oh my, that hits close to home, doesn't it!
The Bible makes it clear in this verse (and in many others! Prov 17:27, Prov 21:23, James 1:26, Titus 3:2... I could go on and on) that understanding others is what a wise man does.
It is wise to take pleasure in understanding.
Easy to say. Hard to do.
Like Beau Taplin says, we forget to be understanding. Why? Because we're so desperate to be understood.
It requires humility, doesn't it. That humble act of putting the other person before us and going, yes, I want to express my opinion and I think yours is COMPLETE rubbish... but choosing to ignore those rash feelings inside us that want to express those opinions. To step back and allow the other person to explain their point of view. To avoid that argument because you know it won't help any. To seek to honestly understand the other person's viewpoint and to seek out where they are coming from.
It's definitely not something that comes naturally to us! When we see a fire we want to fight it! But we must stop and choose to fight it wisely - with water, that will put it out, rather than with fire, which will only make it grow.
Fight the fire of a heated discussion with soothing words and the honest desire to understand, to stop it turning into the furnace of an argument.
Like Proverbs 15:1 says, a gentle answer turns away wrath. Gentleness and humility are the keys to dampening out and extinguishing the fire of an argument.
What has the Lord been teaching you recently?