Thursday, March 14, 2013

10 Things To Consider Before Engaging in Controversy

Burk Parsons:
1. HAVE I PRAYED? Prayer is the easiest thing to do and, perhaps, the easiest thing to forget. Before we engage in controversy, we are called to humbly seek the Lord, praying for ourselves and for the one with whom we disagree.

2. WHAT IS MY MOTIVE? We do well to question our motives without questioning others’. We are arrogant to think we can judge the motives of others’ when we can’t even understand our own motives at times. We need to ask the Spirit to search our hearts and reveal any wickedness.

3. AM I STRIVING TO EDIFY OTHERS? Are we striving to win an argument for the sake of the argument, or is our aim to bring the person with whom we disagree, and our audience, into closer conformity with the Word of God for the glory of God? Is our goal to show our intelligence or to point others to God and His Word?

4. HAVE I SOUGHT COUNSEL? We desperately need to seek out wisdom from our brothers in Christ, particularly older men and women who have grown more gentle, loving, and wise as they have matured in the Spirit. We need to seek out wisdom from our pastors and elders, and even from wise brothers with whom we might disagree.

5. WOULD I NOT RATHER BE WRONGED? When someone has criticized us, fairly or not, publicly or privately, it is not always necessary to respond. Love covers a multitude of sins, and our humble silence or turning of our cheek can turn away another’s wrath.

6. HOW WILL I TREAT THE PERSON WITH WHOM I DISAGREE? Are we showing love to our brother that the world might know we are fellow disciples of Christ? Are we treating our “opponent” as a brother in Christ or as an enemy of the church?

7. AM I INVOLVING A BIGGER AUDIENCE THAN NECESSARY? Is this a public or private matter? Also, is this a primary matter or is it secondary? Have godly men disagreed about this throughout history, and, if so, how should that affect my tone? Are we responding to a real controversy or are we actually creating one or making it a bigger issue than it really is?

8. AM I THE RIGHT PERSON TO ENGAGE? We often think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and we seldom esteem others as better than ourselves. We need to ask ourselves if something needs to be said, and if we are the ones to say it. Simply because we have a platform to speak to an issue doesn’t mean we always need to use it.

9. WHAT IS MY ULTIMATE GOAL? What are we aiming for? What truth are we defending? Will our engagement further advance the gospel and love for God and neighbor? Our goal ought never to be mere provocation.

10. AM I FOCUSED ON GOD’S GLORY? Are we serving God’s kingdom or our own kingdom and name? Our goal is not to gain more readers or listeners, but to point all eyes to Christ for His glory. If we must engage in controversy, let us only and always do so for God’s kingdom and glory, not our own.
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