Be generous. Assume the best first. Don't assign evil motives to other parties. They may have intended something else. Let the principles of love guide our discussions (1 Cor.13).
Be respectful. Don't begin a response by insulting and insinuating that the other parties are intellectually deficient. Just address the issue without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Kindness and respectfulness should mark all conversations.
Be willing. It's possible that we misunderstood something. Be willing to discuss and foster good communication through definition and clarification.
Be open. It's possible that we are wrong ourselves and haven't thought something through. Consider the other position and make sure that we understand it before rejecting it outright. If we are still sure that we disagree, then proceed with the other principles still in mind.
Be direct. Being generous and kind does not mean that we have to beat around the bush when we address the issue. State clearly the objection and the reasons for the disagreement.
Be honorable. We all make honest mistakes in our reasoning and conclusions, but if we purposefully twist or distort something in order to win an argument, we have crossed over into dishonesty. This is never honorable or right.
Be committed. First, be committed to the Lord and His truth. Then be committed to the well-being of others. Winning an argument is pointless just for its own sake.
Be logical. It is one matter to just state, "I disagree," or to just state a contrary proposition. It is another matter to state the disagreement along with reasons. Learn how to make actual arguments. If we want others to consider our positions, we need to able to give the "because" for our positions. If we can't state the "because," then we don't have adequate grounds for actual discussion.
Distinctive Preaching W. Curtis Porter
I cannot conceive of their having ever been a time in all of the history of the church that distinctive preaching was not needed. Perhaps there have been periods of that history in which such preaching was more sorely needed than at other times; but if so, the failure of some to preach a distinctive gospel was responsible for the increase of the need for it. And it may be that there was never a time when the need for distinctive preaching was more imperative than now. We have entirely too much preaching that means nothing, and the need of the hour is for men who have the courage to preach a distinctive message.
Are You Prepared? Alexander Maclaren
"Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having one everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:13-18)
And not only is there courage needed for the application of the principles of conduct which God has given us, but you will never have them handy for swift application unless, in many a quiet hour of silent, solitary, patient meditation you have become familiar with them. The recruit that has to learn on the battle-field how to use his rifle has a good chance of being dead before he has mastered the mysteries of firing. And Christian people that have their Christian principles to dig out of the Bible when the necessity comes, will likely find that the necessity is past before they have completed the excavation. The actual battle-field is no place to learn drill. If a soldier does not know how his sword hangs, and cannot get at it in a moment, he will probably draw it too late.
The British poet Frederick Langbridge (1849–1923) once wrote,
Two men look out through the same bars:
One sees the mud, and one the stars.
These words seem especially relevant as we read Paul’s letter to the saints at Philippi. No matter where life took Paul, and in spite of all he was called to endure, the apostle wrote with a heart of joy and with a spirit of optimism—“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12). Notice he said, “I have learned the secret of being content.” Which leads us to wonder: What is this secret of contentment, and why is it a secret?
The secret seems to relate to the fact that most people seek contentment in the wrong way. Aren’t we all inclined to believe that we would be happy and content if we could have all the material things we wanted and engage in any activity that we considered pleasurable? Countless witnesses throughout human history testify to the fallacy of such an idea. J. Paul Getty (1892–1976) was one of the wealthiest men of his time. After becoming a millionaire at age 23, Getty decided to live it up and for many years lived the life of the “rich and famous.” Yet, in the distress and discontent of his later life, he found himself looking back upon five failed marriages and poor relationships with his children. At age 75, he wrote:
A man can attend only so many parties and dances without getting bored. He can drink only so much champagne and paint the town red only so many times before he wakes up to the realization that he’s wasting a very great deal of time and energy on meaningless things.
How true! But, we didn’t need to hear from Mr. Getty to get a sense of the vanity of trying to find ultimate peace and happiness in the pleasures and pursuits of this life. Solomon wrote,
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:11–12).
Like Solomon, J. Paul Getty and many others have learned from experience that pleasure, power, fame and fortune do not ensure contentment.
Have you found yourself expressing discontent over the fact that you had been deprived of something you either wanted or felt you deserved? Truthfully, this disposition has little to do with what we actually have or may not have. Those who study human behavior refer to this as “relative deprivation.” Relative deprivation can be illustrated as follows: A peasant in a poverty-stricken country is forced to walk everywhere he goes. He sees his neighbor riding a bicycle and complains, “If only I had a bike.” In another
part of the world, a wealthy oil tycoon regrets he has only one Leer jet while one of his neighbors has two. Get the point? In both instances the men feel deprived and are discontented … yet their conditions in life are worlds apart!
Which brings us to the secret of contentment. It may be stated rather simply:
Contentment is not achieved by obtaining more, but by learning to be satisfied with less.
One must learn to discipline his desires so as “to be content” with what he has (Hebrews 13:5). It’s worthy to note that Paul said he had “learned“ to be this way. Contentment was not infused into Paul at his conversion, but became something he learned in the schoolhouse of experience. He went through manifold trials and a maze of cities while preaching the gospel, and through it all he learned to be content. He came to realize that God could be trusted; that God really did keep His promises. Therefore, Paul was able to accept all things and do all things “through Christ” (Philippians 4:13).
The apostle did not have to be pampered to be content, but found his self-sufficiency and strength in Christ! What a comfort when we finally realize that all of life’s misfortunes and disappointments are “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
It is possible. We can be content even while living in a depraved and disillusioned world. But it begins and ends with us finding our sufficiency in Christ and in the hope of eternal life. Learning to be content … we must! Will you?